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board are both senior members of the Aero Bureau. So in a sense, the department has taken the best of both worlds, and combined these units into one very special and very elite rescue helicopter crew. Sheriff’s Air Rescue 5. The sixth person today is, well, me. We depart the hospital and are en route to

a missing person in the Angeles National Forest. The 77 year old man is an avid hiker and ground teams have located his vehicle on a mountain road. After searching for 45 minutes we have exhausted all possible routes he could have trav- elled and we head to home base, Barley Flats. At an elevation of 5600 feet, it offers wide views of the mountains and serves as a launch pad for Air Rescue 5 – appropriate since the entire mountain top used to be a Nike missile base. But Aero Bureau is not only about rescues. Los Angeles County is a big place. If it were

a state, it would be the 9th largest state by pop- ulation. It covers 4,084 square miles. LA Sheriff’s


Aero Bureau serves over 4 million residents in the unincorporated county areas with a fleet of H3’s, Cessna fixed wing and the workhorse AS350 B2. They handle this diverse area currently with

twelve B2’s and are in the middle of a replace- ment project to bring on a total of fourteen new ships. When asked about the additional two new aircraft Aero Bureau Captain Louis Duran said, “This will allow us to expand our operation and place two B2’s up at Brackett Airport. There are times when Long Beach is IFR and we can’t get up into the northern areas where the weather is VFR.”

Captain Duran is not your ordinary unit

commander on the department. You see, Captain Duran is himself a helicopter pilot. I asked one of the deputies about that. “Captain Duran is will- ing to suit up and go 10-8 anytime,” I was told. “He tries to work to fill in some of the missing shifts,” explains another. No overtime and unfilled slots are a reality in today’s economic times. I’m


immediately impressed by those statements. Asking around, I hear how important it is that the man at the top of their unit also be a pilot. So what does it take to become a member

of the LASD Aero Bureau? “We start with deputies, you have to be a patrol deputy first, and then you can apply into our unit,” says Sgt. Morrie Zager. “We require applicants to pay for and receive their FAA Rotorcraft at the private level. If they are accepted into our unit, we will take them up to their commercial rotorcraft cer- tificate. Then they work as Tactical Flight Deputies (TFD) for as long as five years, just depending on when we have a pilot position open up. Once in as a pilot, you will receive extensive training in the AStar B2 aircraft. After 5000 hours of AStar time, you are eligible to start flying the H3 aircraft,” Zager explains. It’s a long road, no doubt. And with 10,000

sworn personnel and only 14 TFD positions, it’s a very long shot. But now it’s my chance to jump

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