We are very excited to have the Utah Highway Patrol GPS helicopter coming to our fair this year.
The Aero Bureau responds statewide to provide aviation support to law enforcement and search and rescue agencies. It deploys aircraft day or night in most weather conditions to provide this support. The Aero Bureau is a force multiplier that provides essential services such as aerial search, transport of search teams, aerial re-supply, rescue of victims from remote areas, transport of search dogs, airborne command and control, surveillance, traffic enforcement, prisoner extradition, executive transport and limited medical evacuation.
In addition, the Aero Bureau provides aviation support to non-law enforcement state agencies performing such missions as passenger transport, game surveys and radio site maintenance.
The Aero Bureau uses the following tools in the performance of its missions: FLIR inferred cameras, night vision goggles, Nightsun searchlights, gyro-stabilized binoculars, GPS navigation computers and external load long-lines and nets.
The only helicopter pilots are Terry Mercer and Steve Rugg. They were both originally trained by the military, Terry coming from a Navy background and Steve from the Army.
For training in the Eurocopter Astars, they went to Canadian Helicopters and trained at their flight school in Pinticton, British Colombia, Canada.
The helicopters can carry up to five passengers plus the pilot.
The Highway patrol has been flying helicopters since the 1980s and the Astars since 2001.
In a typical year the helicopters are involved in the rescue of up to 70 people a year. These rescues include hikers, snowmobilers, skiers, rock climbers, children, boaters, plane crash survivors, horseback riders, hunters and such.