TPS E15: Police Helicopter Pilot Eric Weidner – Thingspolicesee

TPS E15: Police Helicopter Pilot Eric Weidner

In this interview we talk police air support. Ever wonder what it’s like to chase down a bad guy from the air? Fire a gun from a chopper? Be blinded by a green lazer while flying? Eric Weidner has the answer to all these questions and more! Really fun chat that gives you a peak into the life of a police pilot. 

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hey guys welcome to the podcast in thisepisode I sit down and interview aretired police helicopter pilot I foundthis to be so interesting his name’sEric Widener he flew for OntarioCalifornia which is a pretty good sizedcity of a couple hundred thousand peopleit’s just it was just fascinating cuz Ihave no idea or I had no idea what thecops up in the helicopters were doinghow you become a helicopter pilot canyou be a cop and then become one or dothey are doing only hire military guysthat I’ve already flown he answers allthose questions and a lot more it wasreally fascinating and fun I had a bunchof questions from listeners who wantthat you wanted me to ask him and hejust kind of answered them as we had aconversation for just under an hour so Ididn’t actually have to really ask toomany listener questions at all so it wasa really good time I had a blast andalso I wanna let you know I started ayoutube sorry I started a Facebook pagefor the podcast you can just type inthings please see first-hand accounts itshould pop up you want to go ahead andjoin that I’d like to start a littlecommunity around the podcast justinteract with you guys that way like I’mgonna post a video of a helicoptercrashing that we talked about theepisode so I’ll do that when I refer tothings in episodes all this post up onthe Facebook page so you guys can checkit out we can interact there or you cankeep sending me emails either way bothare great I love hearing from you guysand it’s it’s been great the podcast isstill going strong still climbing andI’m just super happy about it and verythankful for everybody that listens sowithout further ado here is episodenumber 15 this is things police seizefirst-hand accounts with your oast StevegoldEric thank you for coming on podcast myman no problem glad to be here so youwere introduced to me through the firstinterview I ever did Rob McCreary usedto you grew up with Rob or you know Robsomehow correct yeah I I knew Rob as anacquaintance because he worked for aneighboring agency and then I was incanines when he got into canines so gotto know him a little bit better that wayokay that makes sense canines usually apretty tight-knit group of guys yeah wewere in the same training group ourcity’s trained together so that was wesaw each other pretty frequently okayyeah I was um I was real excited thatyou were willing to come on the showbecause you know sounds like it a longgreat career and also you were a pilotfor an air when police Air Wing which Idon’t have much experience with at alland I have a lot of questions and I putsome questions out to the listeners theyhave questions so we’re just reallyreally happy to have you here help letme ask you this how do you evenbesides already being a helicopter pilotbefore you’re a cop how what’s the pathto becoming a pilot um on a policehelicopter well it’s a little bitdifferent for everybody I can tell youwhat it what it what it’s like for forOntario and that is surprisingly in thatno no prior flight experience isnecessary it’s preferred but it like Isaid we we’ve got we’ve taken peoplethat have had no flight experience andtypically what happens is they will comein and the first position that you canreally kind of get yourself into is aalternate tactical flight officer and sothe tactical flight officer is what wasused to what we used to refer to as theobserver somebody somebody along thelines felt like tactical flight officerwas a better description of the actualposition because observer that you’rereally not doing much you’re observingbut you’re you’re integral into the endof really everything that you’reinvolved inso I think they felt like there was aneed to kind of address that likeeverything else you know there’s a needto call things whatever changed thenames so that’s the the actualdescription of the job or TFO is whatthey are referred to by the industrypeople so you can you can be selected asan alternate TFO which means we bringyou out for an orientation and you’veand you’ll go through an interview andand a flight test to make sure thatyou’ve got some sort of aptitude for thework and then you would be workingbasically covering days off or vacationsor different things like that andwhenever your shift could release you tocome out and work in air support that’swhat you would do and that what thatallows is the people at air support tokind of get a feel of what your skillsand talents might be or might not be andthen from there if if it turns out thatyou do have an aptitude for that areathen the next step would be to bring youon as a full-time of TFO from there we Idon’t know of an instance where thisisn’t ever where this has ever nothappened we always pick our pilots fromthe TF oh cool so you would have had tohave been a TF o in order to transitionover and become a pilot I would sayprobably it’s probably 50/50 withregards to the the people that areselected as a pilot who either who haveflight experience and who don’t haveflight experience so we a lot of theguys have like maybe a fixed-wing orprivate pilot’s license so we’ve had afew people that have actually had arotorcraft license or a helicopterlicense but we’ve also had people thathave had no pilot certificationswhatsoever that’s really awesome thatOntario does that that they will bring aguy up from the ground that’s coolI think you know when you look at it andbecause the last six years there I wasspent as a unit commander so I was Itook over asReiser for the entire air unit and whatyou find is that everybody it just isnot a skill set that everybody possessesso when you find somebody that has theaptitude it’s not necessarily whether ornot they have they’ve got you know hadthe extra time to go out and get apilot’s license because there are peoplethat have done that and they’ve kind ofthought well they’ll get fast-trackedthrough and they’ve you knowunfortunately it doesn’t transpire thatway because they just they’re not set upto handle the workload that’s requiredin that position so it’s and I say thatbecause it’s it’s it can be prettyintensive I mean obviously you canunderstand that if you’re trying topilot you know a five million dollaraircraft over a populated city at a 400or 500 feet above the ground at night inSouthern California while you’re tryingto keep your TFO on the suspect there’sa lot that’s required there a lot ofmove a lot of moving parts literally andfigurativelyimagine and it requires a fair bit ofconcentration and the ability tomultitask the ability to be really fluidbecause things can change with rapidlyand so when you find thosequalifications it’s not it’s it’s notalways because that person has a pilot’slicense because of it and that’s why wewere looking at these people way beforethat is alternate T fo xand t fosbecause we’re really analyzing you knowhow do they handle the pressure how dothey handle the you know when it getsreally busy in the cockpit do they fallapart or do they step up and when thepilots workload increases do they dothey you know take the initiative tostart helping out for the pilot sidestart changing radio frequencies thingslike that those are all things we lookfor and then that those are the kind ofthe precursors or the the indicatorsthat that person would be a goodfit on the other side of the aircraftthe advantage of that is every one ofthe pilots knows exactly what the guy onhis left side is doing because they’vedone it right so when it comes torolling into a call you know how howthat guy wants to roll under the callyou you know you kind of there’s a lotof unspoken communication that goes onbecause I could I could literally telljust by looking across the cockpitif I had my TFO situated too far forwardor too far back on like a traffic stopjust based on how much I was he washaving to turn or where his head wasrested and so you there’s a lot of thatstuff that just kind of comes fromspending so much time on the other sidethat makes sense and a lot of times youknow it goes the other way as well wellwe well we don’t want the new pilotsbeing a TFO we want two piloting theaircraft as you build experience itbecomes easyyou’re an easier you know when somebodytells the TSO to go to channel two or goto a different channel if he’s got hishands full and he needs to stay out thewindow the pilot can reach down andswitch the police radio over and say heyyou’re on channel two and then thenthat’s that’s where that bi-directionalyou know not non-smoking communicationcomes inokay so there’s obviously there’s not Idon’t know what I was imagining butthere’s it’s not just a pilot up thererunning the radio by himself flyingaround he’s obviously the pilot is incontrol the helicopter his main thing isflying and then the TFO is kind of doinga lot of a lot of um cursory duties likethe radio and yeah I explained it thisway one time and it was probably thebest way to kind of explain it tosomebody that doesn’t actually or hasn’tactually done it it’s like playing twovideo games at the same time and thencarrying on a conversation with two tothree different people all at the sametime and so I when I was at efo and Iused we would show people the helicopterI used to always direct them to theTFO side of the helicopter and mystandard line was this is the businessside of the helicopter this is where allthe magic happens and then even as apilot I found that to still be true thatthe toughest I quite honestly thetoughest job in the police departmenttoday is that of a tactical flightofficer because the ability to multitaskprocess huge amounts of informationdirect a scene get people where theyneed to be you keep people from gettinghurt all the way all while you’retraveling it you know 100 to 130 milesan hour sometimes in circles above theground it doesn’t get much moretechnical and much moreprot you know from an informationprocessing standpoint than that andthat’s not to take away anything fromany of the other assignments but I cantell you having done everything fromdetectives to SWAT to k-9 SWAT tomounted detail to air support thathonestly that that that TFO position isprobably the most technical position inthe department it sounds like you man Idon’t know I think I think I would tryit once or if I got a shot and come downafter one shift and be like oh that wasfun I’m never doing that again you knowand what we find is there are peoplethat are really comfortable in the airand there are people that are not andyou typically kind of fall into one ofthose groups so you know a kind of afunny story we had a guy that had beenwith our department for over 20 yearsand his dream was to get to air supportand this guy you could literally drophim blindfold that anywhere in the cityand he could within a matter of minutesor seconds figure out where he was butwe would put him in the helicopter andhe wouldn’t lose complete situationalawareness we have zero idea where he wasand he would came out everyAaron would test for you know analternate observer position or TFOposition and it was it was a littleheartbreaking because he was the nicestguy in the world but you would get himup and I mean in Ontario we have anInternational Airport in the middle ofthe city right there’s some there’s somebig landmarks and you would be trying tocoach the guy through it saying you knowis there anything that looks familiaryou know slightly you know would be theUPS ramp with 35 jumbo jets parked allover it you know is there no mountainyeah you have the intersection of the1060 and 15 freeways all in the city isthere is a freeway that looks familiarthere anything and this guy wouldliterally sit there and say no no no Ithink so it was unfortunately he neveryou know he never got that break and heended up kind of I think coming to therealization it wasn’t going to besomething that was going to be fulfilledbut I tell that story because it’s notuncommon for people to get up in the airand just kind of lose all awareness ofnorth-south-east-west anything and thenthere’s some people to get up there andit just is like you know it for me italways was the same thing just from theair so I could very quickly look aroundand instantly tell where I was whatstreets that we were over and that sortof thing you just kind of had it yeahthat’s yeah you some people just somepeople just have it some people don’tman Eric I see a lot of helicopters inthe air around these partsso I mean must be all different agenciesand I know some agencies pool theirfunds together to share helicopters doesthat ever get does it get crazy up thereI mean it seems like there’s helicopterseverywhere in Southern California yeahand I don’t know if I would if I would Imean I don’t know if I would say it’scrazy it’s because it’s prettycontrolled but if you take intoconsideration that over the entirecontinental United States at any timeone third of all the air traffic trafficthat’s in the air is over SouthernCaliforniawell it adds some some complexity towhat you do but having had said thatit’s like it’s like growing up in a bigcity if you’ve grown up in a big citytraffic and and the hustle and bustle ofthings doesn’t seem that out of place toyoubecause you’re used to it whereas if youhad grown up out in the country and thenyou’re introduced to it it seems likejust complete chaos so I think it’s kindof the same thing we you know as as aspilots and as TF O’s were introduced tothat environment from from the verybeginning so we don’t ever know anythingdifferent now having had said that I cantell you that if you if you get on the10 freeway going toward downtown LosAngeles over a pursuit that’s going 90to 110 miles an houryour workload increase increasesexponentially and incredibly rap rapidlyI mean it’s just things start happeningreally really fast but you try to youtry to always have yourself in a placewhere you can handle that and at timesif the pilot needs help he’ll tell theTF oh hey man I need you to grab achannel for me switch me over to ElMonte it’s one 22.8 you know or whateverit is one twenty two point one and theTFO will know how to do that and so itcan be hectic it and I would say thatprobably 15 years agothere was a little bit more frictionbetween law enforcement and the newsmedia as far as them showing up on callsand kind of getting I don’t want to saygetting in the way but you know therewere there was times where it felt likethey were kind of breathing down yourneck yeah I’m sure it doesn’t for a goodshot yeah but but what’s happened overthe last five to ten years is the opticson these camera systems has become sogood that now they don’t they can theycan stay way up out of the way where youhardly even know they’re there and thenthey can still get their shotand I think I think we’ve evolved atleast in the Southern California areawhere the news at least in my experiencerespects what law enforcement and firstresponders are trying to do so whiletheir sole purpose is to try to get theshot they they try to respect the thepublic safety element as well and so Iwe’ve we’ve I’ve found that over thelast five to ten years the relationshipbetween law enforcement and the mediahas begotten has gotten a lot better atleast you’re getting along in the airyou know yeah that’s true I mean catsit’s I can’t speak to any of the otherrelationships or things that arepublicizedyou know elsewhere but I think therethere appears to be at least a commoninterest to respect each other in theair so if you’re see or you’re in achase and there’s news choppers up aboveyou and you’re just ripping down the tenhow how fast can you were youcomfortable pushing that chopper howfast would you operate at that’s good togo it can go you know I mean like thetop speeds probably right around 130something miles an hour 130 knots whichthen translates into about 150 somethingmile an hourhaving had said that it was rare thatyou would have to push that once youwere over or pursued it was rare thatyou’d ever have to push it that hardbecause there’s not many places inSouthern California where somebody candrive even a hundred miles an hourconstantly right you’re going straightyou’re going as a crow flies obviouslyso we’re gonna – crow flies and they’recoming up on traffic and they’re havinga weave through people and so if the thetask wasn’t really keeping up with herpursuit once you were over it a lot oftimes if we got the call and we were atthe hangar then the challenge wascatching it because once you givesomebody a head start and they’re doing100 miles an hour even if you’re flying150 miles an hourdo all the Kachin so that was the thatwas really the only the time where itfelt like you were like hey you youcouldn’t get the helicopter to go fastenough but the rest of the time was wasmanageable and then it was just a matterof kind of keeping your head on a swiveland making sure that everybody aroundyou was doing the same thing and whathappens when her pursuit goes for aextended period of time now is you’lleither get a helicopter from the sameagency or from a neighboring agency thatwill fly what they call hike what wecall high cover and basically what thatmeans is that helicopter will climb upfive hundred to a thousand feet abovethe the helicopter actually over flyingthe pursuit and the high coverhelicopter rules will take over all ofthe radio traffic with the towers andand any other aircraft that might be inthe area that they need to coordinatewith or or deconflict with oh that’scool that leaves the flight crew that isright on top of the pursuit it givesthem the ability to just really focus onwhat they’re doing in the ground andthen everything else is taken care ofand that really that’s that’s reallybeneficial when you get a high workloadtype environment like that I can imagine- it’s just one less thing yeah and youknow the other thing is you have to becognizant of where the airspace is youknow and for those that don’t understandyou know airspace are these circles thatthat exist in the sky and you can’t seethem it’s kind of like a it’s kind oflike the the the delineations of a cityalthough typically with a city or countyyou kind of you might know that you knowthis road is the different the differentpoint you know once we cross over thisstreet or in the next city or we’re inthe next County and you don’t have thatin the air so you have to haveinstrumentationthen you have to have awareness so thatyou know rough landmarks that will tellyou when you’re crossing into certainairspace because like in SouthernCalifornia around LAX is highly as isthe like the most highly restrictiveairspace that there is it’s called classBravo and you you cannot just flythrough it even when you’re in pursuityou can’t just bust through it and saysorry we’re chasing somebody becausethey may have you know Airbus a380 with300 passengers coming in to land andthey can’t have that type of conflict sohaving to do some some coordination andand it’s not uncommon where we’ve beenchasing people and we’ve been told toclimb you know 2,000 feet when we’re at400 feet above the ground well the lastthing you want to hear when you’refollowing a suspect you know that you’vegot units pursuing is you’re gonna haveto climb 1,600 feet and it’s not amatter that you’re gonna lose them butjust the whole process of climbing isreally kind of it can it can throw itkind of a wrench in the monkey work ormonkey wrench in the works because itjust is something that that takes timeand and takes some effort and might takeyou actually off your target so there’sthere’s that that exists too and andthere’s a lot of airspace I mean themajority of the area in SouthernCalifornia is controlled airspacemeaning that you got to either talk to acontrol tower or a an ATC and airtraffic controller and get clearance andauthorization a trap to transitionthrough it so that’s anotherconsideration and it’s just somethingthat you you know the great thing is wehave a great we have a great rapportwith the air traffic controllers and soaround your local tower they almostalways know you know we used to take ourcontrollers Pizza like you know everycouple months we would get pizza andtake it down and drop it off and then wewould go up and nice and talk to him andit really helped because then when itcame time for us to get you know aclearance or something they would dowhatever they could be kind of get usthrough and transition us and andmake our job easy and at the same timewe weren’t you know a student that wasputting a heavy workload on them andthey weren’t having to repeat things andso you kind of form a mutual respect foreach otherand that goes a long way when things youknow get get busy yeah I definitely putthe voice or face with the voices isreally good yeah very much soso then they know oh these guys aren’tjust out there trying to be difficultthey’re trying to do a job and the otherthing was we would always we alwaysoffered and left the the invitation outfor fly along with the air trafficcontrollers because for them to come seewhat we were doing would give them adifferent perspective as well and theywould understand that sometimes some ofthe things they would ask us to doweren’t necessarily necessary orfeasible but that you know if theydidn’t understand the type of job or thetype of flying we were doing it couldseem that it would be a requirement soyeah I would go a long way towards theirunderstanding of what we were doing andvice versayou know we they would they when we wentup to the tower they would kind of showus what they were doing what theirresponsibilities were and so it became atwo-way street yeah that makes a lot ofsense now with all the air space likeyou’re saying so restricted how is umHoward drones affecting what you’redoing up there I have I helped myselfhave I bought one of those DJI phantomdrones back yeah a couple years ago Ibought it it was like you know use mytax return it was like you know it waslike 1500 bucks and it’s in I mean tothis day it’s incredible it will goabout a mile away from you if you have alike pretty clear horizon and supermaneuverable it can I mean on YouTubeI’ve seen them go above cloud coverbefore I mean and when you do this nowit’s logging everything and it’s tellingyou the whole timehey this is illegal you shouldn’t bedoing this we by the way we have a logof it and we know it to you so if itgets sucked into a turbine you’rescrewed but that doesn’t stop a lot ofpeople like these drones you see thembuzzing aroundwould that screw with you guys it can Inever personally had an incident whereit did but it was kind of always in theback of your mind because the difficultthing is you you most likely I meanprobably 70% of our flying was at nightjust because that was the you know thetime where things were busiest so atnight you’re not gonna see a drunkdoesn’t matter whether it has likeheadlights on it or not there’s thechances of you seeing it are pretty slimso you always just kind of hope thatmaybe when there’s not one driftingaround up there and could a chopper takeit could you just bash right through itusually you think it’s it all depends onwhere it hit the chopper if I mean youcould actually if you hit it in the tailrotor the tail rotor is a little morefragile place and you could actuallylose your tail rotor and then it’s notlike the weak I mean we practice loss oftail rotor control and and loss of tailrotor landings so it can be done butit’s it’s not something you really youwant to you want to do at nighttime andthe other thing is if you took it in thecanopy I don’t know that one of those ifyou were going fast enough who wouldn’tcome right through the canopy and causeI mean that you know a bird can actuallycause significant injuries if it’s largeenough because a bird will come rightthrough the canopy and and there’sthere’s there’s cases every year whereit’s like who are hit with bird parts orbirds that that break through thewindshield Wow so it’s it is it’s agrowing problem I think TFA’s get gottheir hands full of trying to figure outhow to control it and how to monitor itI think it’s I think they’re great toolsyeah I see them as as being supplementalto to the helicopters and the abilitytheir ability to kind of get underneathyou know like let’s say a patio cover orsomething like that or or go down andtake a look in the the open door of ashed in the backyard you know or orlooking in areas you know for lostpersonwhere maybe you couldn’t get ahelicopter into but you could fly adrone down and do a little canyon orsomething I think there is a definiteapplication and I know a lot of agenciesare using them to plot like accidentreconstruction or crime scene stuff andso there’s there’s a lot of applicationswhere I think they’re they’re useful Ithink and but those are professionalapplications I think the question isgoing to be how do we address theconsumer applications and and how do wecontrol it and really it’s I don’talways think it’s a it’s a maliciousthing on the part of the consumerI think it’s merely it’s more just alack of understanding a lack that a lotof what banning us as far as howdangerous it can be you know it’s onething to tell somebody something but ifthey really don’t understand what thethe cumulative consequences are then tothem it might just be well it’s just arule but I don’t it’s no big deal yeahlike I don’t know when I got mine Ithink you’ve you have pretty good commonsense you immediately feel like you’redoing something wrong because I flew myway to hell offshore on Cape Cod and Iwas like there’s a you know there’s abunch of little airports there and itwas out in the mix I was like this feelswrong I shouldn’t be able to do thisright and now I’ve registered it likethey want you to and frankly it’s not asfun anymore it’s kind of I get nervousnow it’s all registered it’s got aserial number it’s up there and you knowI’ve actually think I’ve seen like kindof like a chart of them going up gettingpopular then there’s kind of less ofthem around now I think people are maybeif maybe have a healthy fear of themwhich is probably good could be yeah andyou know like I said there they can be Idon’t know why the FA hasn’t justmandated GPS tracking devices outbecause I mean we have GPS devices andeverything now we have been our phoneswe have been watches we have a man Imean so it’s not a matter of size orit’s just it’s more of a cost issuethese companies obviously don’t want tospend the money to have a GPS enableddevice in these thingscan actually track their whereabouts allat all times see my mine has that it’syeah it’s some of them do a lot of theones that are coming just straight outof China that are you know just kind ofthe kamikaze style yeah they’re justthere they’re there they don’t have thatso yeah it is it’s a concern it’s agrowing concern I know that ourcounterparts in the fire service or thewildland firefighting encounter them alot more and the problem that they’rerunning into is is the rule there rulesstate that once one’s in the air theyhave to they have to suspend allfirefighting aerial activity oh reallywhy is that because they simply can’trisk running oh you said aerial okaysorry yeah so the ground crews willstill fight the fire but they’ll theywill end up losing all the air tankersand and the error aerial coordinationuntil they can identify the theunidentified UAV and get it on theground so but I know there’s companiesthat are working on technology andtheirs and I know there’s technologyavailable that will that will down thoseaircraft those drones shouzhou like anet at them or something somethingbesides a it’s an electric though theycan they can identify the electricitythe the signature coming from the UAVand just scramble it that could havebeen the dumbest thing I’ve said wellthey throw a net on it obviouslysomething very high-tech yeah where dothey call those when lika some kind ofpulse goes out and electronic thingsfail is that what you mean yeah therethere is that but it’s it’s less in ahobby RC I don’t know all the detailswith regards to technology but I knowI’ve talked to people and they said thatthere is technology available that willlocate a drone and basically just shutit downthe the the power to it so it’llbasically just go to the ground wowthat’s cool yeah yeah I mean it’s it’sit’s kind of one of those things thatyou’re it’s a I guess it’s become anecessity right I mean you have to havesomething to address these things youcan’t you can’t have people’s lives indanger and then have to call timeoutbecause somebody didn’t get the memoabout not flying their drone over awildfire yeah I tell those firefightersdown there that are you know in 150degrees yeah or the people whose housesget about to get consumed by flames thatthe air tanker can’t come in and save itbecause some of this guys wants to flyas drone and get some cool videoterrible yeah are the worst now I have aquestion for you I’ve been itching toask you I noticed that there’s a certainCounty out here that will shoot peoplefrom their helicopters I know this islike not allowed right federally notlegal right no no it’s totally legal ohit is legal yeah okay I thought theywere being like badasses kind of youknow no no I mean it’s you know alreadyhad it we had a we had an airborne useof force program in Ontario no kiddingyeah and it I I started it about twoyears before I retired and it took usabout two years to kind of research itand identify how we wanted to do it andthen implement the program so the flightcrews go out and train every every 60days so every other month they go theywould go shoot an aerial course and wehave a nun so awesomehorses set up where we have targets on arange and we over fly the range flyingvery specific flight profiles andwithout getting too specific are ourobjective was to be exposed for theshortest amount of time but give ourshooter maximum opportunity to addresswhatever they needed to address and theother thing that we did differently waswe we used our own flight crews wedidn’t a lot of agency they deploy SWATpersonnelor the problem with that is typicallyfor an event that you would need thistype of use of force you don’t have timeto wait or try to locate somebody andthen more frequently like we talkedabout earlier the level of expertiserequired to operate in and around ahelicopter is such that you can’t justtake somebody who knows how to shoot agun and throw them hanging out the sideof a helicopter and say okay now go hitthis target alright they can become sooverwhelmed by the noise and the windand all the other things the g-forcesthat it’s just is it’s not a it’s not apractical or a reasonable expectation toto expect somebody that can can just dothat so that’s why we started using wetrain all of our flight crews all the TFO’s for this role and Ontario goes inservice every day and one of the thingsflight crews do is they check out arifle and they check the rifle and thenare all assigned ammunition and and theythey take that with them when they gofly and they’re all they all haveharnesses and so it’s it’s verycontrolled in it and I don’t want toMonday Morning Quarterback anybodyobviously but you know there’s noteverybody is maybe conducting theirprogram in those in the same wayeverybody kind of has a different styleI’ll just say that I would say there’slike a certain sheriff who seems to doshoot people more than other peoplemaybe maybe maybe that yeah I don’t knowI know that the programs are much morecommon than you might think but thethey’re typically as restrictive is youknow I mean that we followed theguidelines of our use of force policy sowe would have to meet all of our use offorce guidelines before we couldn’tage somebody from the air it’s a veryspecific situation does not arrive ariseabsolutely in a random way they would Iwork for refer to it as the Broken Arrowyou know scenario where it’s everythingis every other attempt to resolvesomething has been used and failed andthis and this is the one thing that canstop a loss of life or or something youknow something along those lines and soit’s it’s that’s the way we’ve trainedfor itthat’s why we’re trained for it all thetime and that was kind of the way it wasunderstood and and so we were trainingfor something that we would probablynever use but our philosophy was thefirst time you do it should not be thefirst time you do it right and so it’s agood rule yeah I mean in and andhonestly that came from our chief he washe was a younger guy and his when we hada meeting and I was talking about this Isaid where are you on this on this thisissue of use of force and he says Iwould like to have it in our toolbox hesays but I don’t want it to be the kindof thing that we put we pull out and andwe hope it goes okay so that was how wekind of kicked off our program and gotvery serious about identifying everyaspect of it and how we wanted it tolook and how we wanted it to performlike would you like have to come in andthen go broadside so the shooter couldline a shot up is that kind of exposeyourself that way yeah we had it therewas a several different profiles that wewould fly and the idea was you weretrying to limit the amount of time thehelicopter was exposed because ourphilosophy was always if we’re shootingat somebody you can’t just expect thatthe person is gonna stand there and beokay with it you have to assume thatthey’re gonna turn around and try toshoot it to you right so we tried to usecover and we would use terrain so thatif ifyou know there was so there’s a there’sa maneuver called a pop-up and it’sbasically you come in slightly above astreetlight level and if you’re in anurban environment and you obviously haveto make sure that there’s no wires youknow or in your path or anything likethat but if you come in low andrelatively fast it can be very difficultfor somebody on the ground to figure outwhere you’re even coming from then I’mforget shooting me I’d have a heartattack that happened right and then wewould do what’s called a cyclic climbwhich is basically you just come back onthe stick bring the helicopter up andthen as you come up and you’re exposingyourself you would turn it sideways sothat the shooter had a clear line ofsight and could engage the target but togive you an idea the engagement wouldtake probably one to three secondsbecause as soon as you heard the firstshot fired as a pilot you were loweringthe collective and you were diving awaybecause we were trying to give theshooter two to four seconds on targetand that was part of not not sitting upthere like a sitting duck and saying heylet’s start shooting let’s have agunfight from the ground to the air theidea was that we would come in fast andit would be an element of surprise andthat we would project an amount of forcethat would be overwhelming to anybody onthe ground so you kind of use use whatyou have to your advantage and you tryto limit the things that aren’t to youradvantage and and and then obviously youtry to do everything as safely aspossible be a lot easier if they justlike mounted a 50 Cal on that thing yeahthe citizens would love thatyeah exactly oh man so Eric can you tellus a time when you were piloting thehelicopter that you were like freakedout or a really alarming thing thathappened in the air well I was I wasflying one night and it was the windswere probably gust in itI know 65 miles an hourso almost approaching I think what theyconsider like a category one hurricaneor something like that and it wasn’tuncommon out in the Inland Empire asanybody who knows who’s been out therefor the winds to just the they havethese Santa Ana events and so we weregetting ripped all over the sky and whenyou’re trying to fly patrol it’s it’sthe the circle that you try to fly overa call turns into kind of like an oblongmutated sort of geographic shape rightas you are flying upwind which is likegoing trying to go up river and then thesecond you turn and the tail and you geta tailwind it the aircraft wants to dropand then of course you get pushed likeyou’re on a roller coaster ride goingdownhill and we were working a call andin the middle in the middle of all thissomebody with one of these green lasersdecides to start laziness and this thingcame and it was this was the first timeI been exposed to green laser I’d seenthe red ones before which were just kindof mildly bothersome you know becausethey would point them at you and but thegreen ones if you’ve never been exposedto it will literally cause flashblindness oh my gosh and they’re they’rehighly highly intensive intense laserbeams and it’s really dangerous becauseit doesn’t even have to hit you directlyin the eyes just the light refractioncoming off of it through the plexiglassand then hitting the canopy the insideof your cabin and so in the middle ofall this like we get hit with a greenlaser and I instantly you find thisprobably 50% of my useful vision and Iimmediately lowered my head down to tryto limit getting hit with it again andat the same time was trying to get thehelicopter straightened out and thenit’s it’s kind of instinctive becauseyou instantly go into the hunter modewhich which you you would think thatmaybe you would just want to fly and gothe otherbut I think the cop side of us instantlysays oh this guy’s not getting awayrightand so my TFO did the same thing he goton the infrared camera and we startedlooking and these guys tried to hit usagain so we were able to pick up theirlocation and it was several miles awaybelieve it or not but we ended up flyingover there and getting three people incustody and recovering the laser and youknow what kind of what kind of device Imean this isn’t a pin laser forpresentations rightit’s a you’d be surprised it’s like thisthe size of a small like a Streamlightstinger it’s it’s very very small butthe the wattage of the laser it’sdesigned to point at stars they saythey’re either for like astrological usebut the idea is that they can from theground try to point out constellationsin the air so that’s how strong a blazerit is how does that work does I meanpoint out constellations like you cansee it I’m the side astronomer but all Iknow is I’ve been I was working assurveillance one night over Chino and wewere at 6,500 feet above the groundand this guy was hitting us with hislaser like it was a hit like I mean andit blew me away because at that altitudeyou almost can’t really see thehelicopter it’s like a boy over a milerent yeah exactlythis guy could see us and was andconsistently hit us with this laser nowhe was hitting the bottom of theaircraft more than anything else andlike the blades so it wasn’t like adirect hit but it was surprising to mehow somebody on the ground could havesomething that precise and and kind ofstay on you and we ended up justblacking out and and flying away andthen and then it won’t you know itstopped because at that point he couldeven see us so that’s gonna be a majorfederal offense right screwing with aaircraft like that yeah it is it’s ait’s a federal offense and there’s aCalifornia Penal Code that that they’recharged with and then a lot of time isthe the Federal District Attorney’s willget involvedpick up the cases as well and that’ssomething that’s for some reason aboutprobably about five years ago it gotreally popular and and it’s kind of beenon the decline since then fortunately Ithink people have kind of gotten themessage because I think it getspublicized enough that hey this is not agood idea yeah they need to be made anexample of cuz that’s that can’t behappening that’s yeah I mean it and likeI said it until it happens to you it youdon’t think most people reallyunderstand how how devastating it can beto your vision I mean it’s like it’sit’s literally like if if somebody youknow like the old flash cameras orsomething like that if that went off youknow right in front of your face and yousaw nothing but spots that’s really whatthat’s the equivalent but imagine thathappening and you’re you’re flying ahelicopter and you’re in the air and youcan’t just go oh I’m gonna take a minuteto let my vision come back because thehelicopters aren’t you know every soyeah everybody used to always ask mewhat stood between it airplane and ahelicopter and I fight both and theeasiest way to explain it was airplaneswant to fly if you home an airplane andit and the engines running it will it’llstay in the air I mean they’re they’reamazingly resilient and they’ll justkind of keep flying I said an air but ahelicopter conversely is the exactopposite if you take your hands off theflight controls in a helicopter it’sgonna start spinning around and end upupside down in the ground really quickyeah there’s no like gliding and ahelicopter there’s no Brio you you canauto rotate but you have to be on thecontrols and you have to be the thingscome out of the aircraft something I’mlike yeah but yeah you don’t want it youdon’t want to be passed out or asleep orwithout all of your senses when you’reflying a helicopter cuz it just it won’tend well oh did you see those two Idon’t know what agents was at LAPD thetwo helicopters that hit the rotors hitand then they just like be so that wasPasadena that was about seven years agoI just got shown that video becausesomeone knew you were coming on andthey’re like look at this that is I meanit’s – you can correct me here but it’stwo choppers on each on its own padright her landing spot for the yeahplease yeah and one of them just gets alittle too close and I think to bothchoppers get trashed for that yeah ohthere was one they one had landed but hewas the engine was still running and thesecond one was coming in to land andthey they got too close and they touchedrotors in the whole area from that pointon everything just comes it’s the worstpossible scenario things are spinning sofast that it’s everything just kind ofeverybody well nobody died right nobodydied fortunately but that’s like whatten million dollars in aircraft goneyeah and it was a yeah they you know andthen then you have get Caltrans and theFAA involved and yeah so there’s a lotof a lot probably a lot of lessonslearned from that all um I’ll put a linkon my Facebook I have a Facebook groupfor this podcast I’ll put a link onthere so people can check it out it’sokay it’s pretty I just immediately feltbad for everybody involved in like offif you know if you don’t lose your jobyou’re just like gonna be like theschlub forever yeah well you knowthere’s there’s something in aviationit’s called a it well I mean the idea inaviation is it’s it’s it’s differentthan kind of everything else because youhave to have complete transparency sothere’s this philosophy where ifsomebody makes a mistake but it wasn’tan intentional mistake and they’re andthey’re forthcoming the the philosophyis that you don’t slam that personbecause what you don’t want is you don’twant that example out there you don’twant hey the guy made a mistake it washonest mistake granite he wrecked ahelicopter but he said I totally blewthat I should in retrospect I shouldn’thave done this I should have done itmaybe a little bit differently you thethe culture is such that you don’t takethat person and crucify themyou make sure that they understand whatthe problem was if training needs tohappen you train them and then you moveforward because it’s worse if thatperson says based on the fact they knowthat there’s no tolerance you know azero tolerance policy if you willthey’re gonna start people are gonnahide stuff yeah this put them much morepressure on the pilots right right rightI mean you have to you have to know thatif you’re trying to do the right thingaccidents will happen and it doesn’tmatter whether it’s an accident andyou’re directing traffic on the groundor whether you’re flying a helicopterit’s things are gonna happen and so Ithink the the takeaway is were you doingwhat you were you trained what you weretrained to do were you doing it in aresponsible manner and was the intentionfor what happened to happen and if thoseare yes and no then then you say wellthen how do we prevent this fromhappening againbut you don’t necessarily hang it all onthat person I think sounds is it at somepoint or another everybody everybodycould end up there absolutely so Eric doyou have time for one more question yeahof course okay before I let you go herethe last question I asked you is justcan you tell us about the the mostintense call that you experienced as apolice officer there’s not two beyond inthe air just just through canine or SWATor patrol your most intense call that’sthat’s a good one you know it’s when Iwas a k-9 for seven years and and doingthat and having over you know has takealmost a hundred apprehensionsthere’s there’s just a lot I I canremember so we’re being around severalshootings those were pretty intense Iremember one night I was working in twoof my buddies like I tried to run themboth down and so they they ended up in ashooting and then I ended up driving 25minutes across town code three to get towhere they were at and when I got therethey were still shooting and and andthere was show up to that you’re like isthis still happening it’s a long gunflat and and and the the irony was I hadI had a ride-along with me and I hadbeen telling him how it was usuallypretty quiet and not much happens and weleft the station and went to a pursuitand then from the pursuit we went to theshootingand as I parked around the cornerbecause I didn’t want to put them in inany danger and said I’m sure it’s I’msure it’s over just stay in the car I’llbe back as soon as I step out of the cargunshots are going off what do you dowith that so this is like a civilianride-along rightwhat do you I mean we had those back inthe East Coast too and guys literallypulled over it on the highway and hadpeople get out didn’t want to get introuble for hurting the person right notthat that’s the court protocol but whatdo you do in that situation well I justI tried to park far enough away to whereI felt like they wouldn’t be in injeopardy and they signed up for thiskind of like yeah but at the same timeit was it wasn’t like in Ontario at thattime it wasn’t like I could draw calloff somewhere you know I think theywould have been worse if I would havedropped in well without a car to belocked in here they get murdered yeahyeah so you know as I’m telling him tostay in the car and taking off and thenyou take off running towards the gunfirearound a corner Wow oh you know it’s alittle bit I guess surreal when you lookback on it but it but it’s something youI don’t think I didn’t think twice aboutand I know any of my friends wouldn’thave thought twice about running to helpme so I guess I guess those are thethings that you look back on after 30years and here you feel fortunate thatyou’re that I’m able to to to be you’retalking to you yeah absolutely manI mean it sounds like you had a lot ofrolls wore a lot of hats lot did a lotof like intensive positions to k-9 SWATso would that shoot out when you had thecitizen everything you guys got the badguys and no hurry I fell no harm yeah nopolice work work subversion is severelyinjured there was a there was a guy thatwas some some just some byproducts ofthe entire incident which was a completekind of a well I don’t want to use thisterm but there was a lot going on therewas tasers deployed there was nightsticks there was canines there waspitbulls that were trying to attack thepolice canines and there those werewhere they were shooting at those dogsand like modern-day West Side Story whatwas going on dogs were fighting oh yeahit was it was an experience so but yeahthe the the result was the bad guy wentto jail and and everybody else was okaywell thank goodness for that yeahEric I wasn’t think we can do anotherone and I can because I’ve the Holt thek-9 thing is a whole maybe separateseparate episode in and of itself youjust took the words right out of mymouth I was just gonna thank you forcoming on and say I got to have you backbecause I know there’s so much more inthere so you willing to come back foranother episode in the future ohabsolutelyawesome Eric thank you so much forspending some time with us reallyappreciate it thanks for having me Stevetake care you too bye bye

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