Patrol Has Eyes from Above

by Emily Baird on September 6, 2010 at 6:32 am

As you returned home from your holiday weekend destinations, you probably saw more cruisers on the roadways, but did you know you were being watched from above?

The Ohio State Highway Patrol is taking to the air on this Labor Day. Its aviation section has a dozen planes that are used across the state.

"Up in the air, it gives us essentially a birds eye view of what the traffic trends are, " says Trooper Pilot George King.

70% of the time, these planes are used for traffic violations, but there’s so much more they can do while in the air.

"It’s common to find marijuana and so forth growing out in the fields. We also take several service calls to look for missing people. Maybe someone wanders from a nursing home. We might go to a campground and find somebody who got lost off the trail, " says King.

The pilots keep in constant contact with the ground crews. Their vantage point is something troopers wouldn’t be able to pick up on in their cruisers.

"That gives us some greater situational awareness that we can relay to that ground trooper so they have a little bit more of what to expect when they intercept that violator," says King.

The aviation section tries to get these planes up daily, and pilots are typically airborne for six hours. Nevertheless, they are at the mercy of mother nature.

"If the weather is conducive to aviation operations, we’re up overhead. If it’s inclement weather, we put on the traditional uniform that you generally are used to seeing a trooper in, and we’ll go out and assist on the road as well, " says King.

During our 30 minute air trip, King was able to help the Granville Post issue four speeding violations, and he says one of those drivers was taken to jail for not having a license.

King says most states are fortunate enough to have an active aviation section. Ohio’s was first utilized back in the 1960’s.