SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — NewsChannel 9 got onboard with the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office Helicopter “Air 1.”
After a successful rescue using the helicopter last week, we were given a chance to ride along to see how the important piece of technology is used.
“We provide so much more that what the average person may think we might do,” said Deputy Michael Bradley, Tactical Flight Officer with the Aviation Unit. “We are there to provide assistance if police officers are looking for a suspect, it may be a lost child, it may be a search and rescue mission. We may be assisting the fire department with bucket drops during a large fire. So, it ranges from day-to-day. I think that is the biggest thing people don’t realize.”
The helicopter itself is more than 20 years old, but its crew and technology continue to provide an important service to the county and surrounding areas. The Aviation Unit has one chief pilot, two pilot/deputies and two flight observer/deputies. The helicopter used is a single-engine Bell 407, also known as “Air 1.” It is equipped with Night Sun (a light source capable of delivering 30 million candlepower), a Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) device, and video downlink/videotaping capabilities.
There are only four people in the sheriff’s office who are certified to operate “Air 1.” Two people have to be on board at all times. One of them flies, the other monitors the technology and several other aspects of the flight.
“There’s a lot of multitasking in the helicopter,” said Deputy Jason Bracy, who was our pilot and has been with the Aviation Unit for 15 years. “Both hands and both feet are moving at all times at the controls. I have to use the radios. I have to use the instruments, know altitude and direction plus we are doing a lot of orbits if we are looking for a person in a certain area.”
Wednesday night at 11 p.m., NewsChannel 9 will take you up with “Air 1” to show how the technology is used to save lives.