BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The Kern County Sheriff’s Office is hoping to take a huge bite out of crime and save even more lives with new and improved sky support: the Airbus H125 helicopter.
The new helicopter and world record holder for the highest altitude take-off and landing on Mt. Everest will be used for patrol and search and rescue operations.
The Kern County Sheriff’s Office is getting two bigger and faster helicopters.
“The H125 is the best helicopter on the market,” KCSO Sheriff Donny Youngblood said.
The two H125s the sheriff’s office revived are replacing two old MD500 helicopters, that were purchased in 1986.
The new helicopters even come with AC.
“That may not sound like a big deal to you, but in the middle of summer when it’s 106 on the ground, it’s 115 in the helicopter,” Youngblood said.
The H125s have twice the seating capacity, a hoist system for rescues and new avionics so pilots don’t have to use paper maps while navigating the motorcycle in the sky.
“The TFO, or the observer can enter in an address and that helicopter will fly itself there. I can be hands-off,” Pilot Kevin Austin said.
The helicopters will be used for nightly patrols, and search and rescue operations. The FLIR camera, or forward-looking infrared, can pick up the heat signature of someone discarding a cigarette from thousands of feet away.
Sheriff Donny Youngblood says the agency is downsizing its fleet to help pay for the $6 million price tag for each H125. The Sheriff says each helicopter is packed with more than 800 horsepower is a force multiplier, like having 10 deputies strong on the streets.
Sheriff Donny Youngblood says the agency is downsizing its fleet to help pay for the $6 million dollar price tag for each H125. The Sheriff says each helicopter packed with more than 800 horsepower is a force multiplier, like having 10 deputies strong on the streets.
“When I was a patrol commander we had 91 deputies that served patrol here in Bakersfield. Today, we’re fielding about 48,” Youngblood said.
The helicopters fly at 150 mph and pilots can’t fly unless they have a minimum of 250 hours of flight time. The sheriff’s office purchased the helicopters in March. Since then they’ve been adding 21st Century tech.
The first H125, called Air One, went on its first patrol on Oct. 19.
Sheriff and pilot, Donny Youngblood says the other helicopter will be operational within the next 90 days.