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Alea Safety Letter

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Twisted Spar -------the odds of 'making it out' were 10:1 in your favour after all the shooting stopped.


Although, well meant, your comments are somewhat 'dated'. If I may be allowed a bit of Canadian R/W history here, I'd like to give you an example and it can be very easily checked-out as to veracity. Even though I lived it, saw, it and heard it, I still shake mu head.


Make this present year about 1968-69. You have 1500-2000 hours on all kinds of piston R/W, and are very experienced doing a multitude of different jobs.....and you've worked almost Canadawide. Your company has the jet turbine powered R/W and you believe that you are qualified now for a check-out. You mention that to buddies over a beer and they all roll their eyes or break-out in laughter. Why? You don't have enough experience yet to fly any kind of sophisdicated a/c like a jet turbine and that 204/05 sitting out on the ramp.........MAYBE by the time you reach about 6000 hours total and have kept your record clean. You need to meet a certain number of hours of experience to just fly a small jet turbine powered R/W and now you can imagine what kind of experience they demanded for a 13 passenger, hulking monster that you could hear coming 25-30 miles away on a frostry morning.

In otherwards, you would get them both when it was consaidered that you 'had paid your dues' and had the experience.....but you weren't there yet with 1,500 - 2,000 hours. Along about the Fall of '68 there was a young man who worked for a company named Associated helicopters in Edmonton. He was an engineer and the company trained him to fly. He had accumulated about 500 hours on various piston-powered R/W and was given a check-out on one of their 206's. Well sir, that was the talk of the industry in western Canada for a very long time because it was unheard of and "he'll kill himself with so little time" or "somebody had a brain-cramp in that outfit".


In MY opinon, much too much focus has been and is spent on 'Total Time'. It's been my experience to work with some very fine pilots who were as good as me at 500-1000 hours as I ever was at 3500 hours......and THAT'S the plain and simple truth. Used to hurt the pride to think that one time, but it doesn't hurt anymore and I can admit it openly because we don't all have the same matching abilities and in some cases never will so "X" number of hours doesn't really mean all that much until you go fly with me.

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This whole topic of Police flying Police will never go away. Let's face the facts, it's just an old-boys-club. They want to work from within. (been there, seen it from inside)


Sure, a civvie pilot can't arrest suspects on the ground, no powers of a Peace Officer. I ask, How many times has an OPP, RCMP, CYYC or CYED city police pilot ever had to arrest anyone?? I could count the times on one hand (I'd guess).


My attitude is like Twisty's, put the most experienced and safest pilot in that seat. He should know police work, BUT if he is deeply involved in the ground action, then WHO IS FLYING THE Aircraft????



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Well said Cap....its about time people in this industry stopped focusing on total time and looked at the inner qualifications of pilots...we (the industry) are way to focused on "TOTAL TIME" .as you said it is hard for a 5-7000hr pilot to look at a 1500hr pilot and admit that the lower time (I have to say Person now) could be equivilant or heaven forbid a better pilot than themselves...We only hold back our charges in fear of been outdone....way too much EGO in this industry. ..there are too many variables to assess ones ability someone getting into this game later in life brings with them an ability to make judgement calls far exceding that of an early 20somehting . As far as the police helicopter goes...the pilot should FLY the helicopter and the guy,or person beside them should do the "policing"..it matters not which pool the pilot is drawn from. The civie pilot can be taught to police ,and given the proper crudentials ..and the Police officer that wants to fly can be taught to do so as well....in the end its comes down to tunnel vision in ones thinking....and we all know were this industry would be if our "risk taking " forefathers had not thought outside the box.....

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you guys have clearly answered the problem in your long winded posts.


what we need is a crystal ball that tells us if that police officer, trained to be a pilot will indeed be any good at it or not. I don't think anyone has that foresight to know exactly how one will develop as they build time. Some excel, some crash and burn. we've seen some of the best lose the fight early, some of the worst persevere and retire, barely bending any metal.


5000 hours, 1000 hours, even 15000 hours will all create different cross sections on a pilots ability and skill. it all depends on what he did while earning that time.



I will still stand by my thoughts of hiring the best pilot you can for the positions. 500 hours for law enforcement flying is too low in my opinion. You're limiting your organization the best pilot option by only hiring with-in.

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I haven't met many police pilots, but every one of those I have met got their licence on their own. I don't know of any police department (ok, I've heard of a couple in the US :rolleyes: ) that will take a zero-hour cop and pay his training. I know three long-time police officers who did their pilot training before, during or after their police career.


My ex-father-in-law is a very long-time cop (40 years in the Montreal force) and his take on it is that one of the issues with non-sworn pilots is an issue of confidentiality and accountability. There is a mind set within the law-enforcement community that civilians don't belong anywhere near police operations. Personally, I think it would be cheaper to take experienced pilots and put them through the police academy. The problem there is finding a helicopter pilot who'd successfully pass through all the hoops without raising a bunch of red flags... :lol:

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I believe 3BX2 asked a question and I can give the number for one police force........and that number is FIVE.......for the RCMP. 'Settlements' were arrived at out-of-court and that kept all 5 quiet. First one happened in Newfoundland in the mid 70's and involved a prisoner being transported by RCMP 205. The pilot had to land, step into the back to assist two Constables with a large prisoner and there was a 'laying on of hands'. Being Captain and commander of the a/c didn't help much. It was 'settled' by the RCMP out-of-court sometime later by Ottawa HQ.


If I were a police person, I would most definitely want the pilot of our R/W to also be a police person. I'd want that for the rules concerning confidentiality and the penalties that go with if they break those rules. I believe "old boys club" has been mentioned here concerning what the police want. I would most definitely agree that that is so. Aviation in general is also an "old boys club" and I've happily used it at every turn for over 40 years.

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