I had signed up to do a helicopter patrol ride-along. I've done several ride-alongs with a local police department, but this was the first opportunity I've had in six years to go up in the air with the aviation deputies. I'm generally pretty terrified of the thought of being in a helicopter or any small aircraft, but I sucked it all up to ride in what's known as "40-King". 40-King is the generic term used to refer to all types of law enforcement helicopters, but the particular aircraft I rode in looked similar to the one below. One of these babies costs roughly $12 million.
My ride-along began with attending the daily deputy briefing. It was very boring. After the boring briefing came my safety briefing, which sent me into a renewed sense of fear and terror. During the safety briefing I learned that:
- That my Maverick & Goose had never been in a crash. They only had close calls! (gulp)
- That if a major emergency came up they would have to land wherever we were at and I would have to disembark and wait for a patrol car pickup. Um, I live in a county that has a lot of 'hood-ish areas; standing around in the middle of the 'hood at dusk kind of worried me.
- That if we did go down I shouldn't exit at all until the propellers had stopped moving, lest I be shredded into bits.
- That the fire extinguisher was to be used on people who may be on fire, not the helicopter itself.
- Goose's closing words: "If me and Maverick are laying there and look dead to you, just save yourself."
Shortly after those parting words, I was loaded into the passenger area and we lifted off. In the pocket on the seatback in front of me were several tiny manila envelopes with white trash bags neatly folded inside of them. The envelopes had the stamp below:
I managed to last the 90 minute duration of their patrol pattern without freaking out or getting sick. It was really neat to find out how much detail you can really see from 600-800 feet in the air. The nosy part of me also loved seeing the huge beautiful homes and their fabulous backyards in the non-'hoodish parts of the county. Unfortunately, all the deadbeats and tweakers were on their best behavior Monday night; there wasn't a single call that we needed to respond to. Instead I just sat back and enjoyed the scenery, including my residence:
Here's a "Where's Waldo?" challenge for you if you're bored. Find Eddie in the picture above! He had just made it home in time to see 40-King circling around. I was apparently too busy taking this picture to see him wildly waving his arms around trying to get our attention. Since Maverick & Goose didn't notice him either, I guess he wasn't acting crazy enough to attract police attention (difficult to believe, I know).
Overall, I had a good time. Maverick & Goose were very friendly and professional and invited to come back anytime. I wouldn't rule out doing another 40-King ride-along, but next time it would be cool to do one at night. I bet I'd look hot in night vision goggles. ;-)