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more systems in the Astar, hydraulics, of course, learning the turbine. It didn’t take long to get used to,” he says. It’s obvious why they fly the B2. It’s a very


stable platform. It’s fast, it’s very powerful, yet small enough to be very nimble in the air. It lands in just a fraction of space off your standard sized helipad. There is room for six, but normal patrols are just with two deputies. “All the ships are exactly the same,” explains “Except for one which is


Sgt. Morey Zager.


equipped with pop out floats and a turn/bank indicator. We use that ship for Catalina Island.” LA is a diverse place. Islands, mountains, deserts, national forests – not what most people think of Los Angeles. It’s dark. The criminals think their getaway is


assured. Then, out of the night sky comes a light moving straight at them at 120 knots and sud- denly 16 million candlepower puts them in the


ROTORCRAFTPROFESSIONAL


spotlight they were hoping to avoid. It’s another burglary call and this time we spot two suspects at a nearby park. Deputies are on them in sec- onds. I ask my TFD about his job. “I guess any job becomes routine after awhile, but I still love catching the bad guys, we all do,” he says enthu- siastically. To find out how they operate all these air-


craft safely I sit down with Sgt. Jonathan Brick. He administers their SMS system and he shows me some recent mechanical incidents. “Anyone can log in and see the incident, what was report- ed, and eventually what our mechanics found,” he says. He uses the system that HAI promotes on their website and has found it effective. We talk about the re-current training and the use of sim- ulators for the H3 pilots. “You should have been here the other day,”


says one of the Sikorsky pilots. “We had sixty four firemen we had to transport to Catalina


34


(Island). We took them over sixteen at a time, with all their gear.” Add in a crew of five and there are not many helicopters that can do that. I ask the pilot about his available power when he’s loaded with personnel like that. “Down here at sea level, this ship is a workhorse, no problem with power at all. When we get up into the higher mountains, that’s when we start shedding excess weight,” says the pilot. I mention that some of the peaks just outside of Los Angeles approach 9000 feet. “Yeah, but that’s just altitude, it can get hot up there as well,” the pilot explains. I ask how he learned to fly. “I started out


getting my fixed wing, then transitioned into the R-22. I knew I wanted to get into this unit from the start,” he said. I ask another Sikorsky pilot what his one most memorable event is in Air 5. Without hesitating, he answers, “Hurricane Katrina.” The LA Sheriffs flew their ship and crew out to support the gulf states when the hurricane


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