PUBLIC SERVICE | POLICE
California’s Sonoma County has come up with a plan to keep its Sheriff’s Dept.’s helicopter flying past Feb. 1.
Boise, Idaho-based Aviation Specialties Unlimited had operated the Bell Helicopter 407 under contract, but told county officials last year it would have to stop because it couldn’t recruit and retain pilots.
That would have led to a Feb. 1 grounding.
After some debate about whether the county should get back in the business of operating a helicopter, the decision has been made.
The county will buy the helicopter for about $1.9 million and hire pilots and paramedics to staff it.
The 407, designated Henry One, responds to about 450 law enforcement calls, 130 search and rescue calls, and 55 medical calls each year. It is noted for its use in dramatic rescues of stranded hikers and climbers from cliffs and its assistance in the pursuit of fugitives.
The designation Henry One comes from the word used to designate H in police radio communications in the jurisdiction.