Plane Bought Through DOJ Study On Effectiveness Of Light
North Carolina sheriff's deputies
have a new set of eyes in the sky: a Sky Arrow 600 light-sport
The Greenboro News-Record reports the long-awaited plane landed
at Piedmont Triad International Airport late last week. The
aircraft -- purchased through a Department of Justice trial program
-- was unveiled Monday, and will soon enter a cooperative program
among sheriff's departments in four area counties.
Officials in Guilford, Alamance, Davidson and Randolph counties
will use the plane for a variety of roles... including surveillance
for possible drug fields, searching for missing people, and routine
"A lot of departments like ours can't justify buying a plane and
putting a full-time pilot out there," Guilford County Sheriff BJ
Barnes said. "(The partnership) will allow us to do the things we
need to do without the expense that goes with it."
The Sky Arrow's reported $85,000 pricetag was paid for through a
study by National Institute of Justice, measuring the effectiveness
of LSAs in law enforecement roles. All maintenance and fuel costs
will be paid through funds recovered in drug busts.
In particular, the study aims to show light sport aircraft can
perform traditional aerial law enforcement roles more efficiently
than existing fixed-wing planes, which local sheriff's departments
had to share with the state.
"We had to do it on their time. If it rained that particular day
or for whatever reason, they weren't able to go up, we weren't able
to fly," Barnes said. "This is going to enable us to fly when we
need to fly and for whatever mission we have."
The low-and-slow Sky Arrow is well-suited for a number of those
duties, said Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson. The faster
response time will be welcomed by local officials.
"By using this particular airplane, you can also cut down for
manpower used for surveillance, and the chances of getting burned
by the suspect is a whole lot less," Johnson added.
Each sortie will be flown by one of three pilots checked out in
the plane, all from the Guilford County Sheriff's Office. The rear
seat of the two-place aircraft will be occupied by an official with
whatever agency has commissioned the plane for that mission.