The Leon County Sheriff's Office Aviation Bureau operates three Bell Jet Ranger helicopters. It is staffed by four pilots, all of which hold FAA Commercial Helicopter Pilot ratings. Two of these pilots are also Certified Flight Instructors. The Director of Maintenance holds an FAA Airframe and Powerplant Certificate and manages the aircraft inspections and maintenance.
Mission equipment installed on the aircraft includes FLIR (Forward Looking Infra Red), a Color Camera, a Digital Video Recorder, a Remote Controlled Searchlight, GPS (Global Positioning System), Mobile Data / Mapping Computer, Gyro Stabilized Binoculars, and a Video Downlink Transmitter which transmits live FLIR video to various receive sites throughout the area.
Through the use of Night Vision Goggles, the pilots can safely operate over the darkest corners of Leon County including the Apalachicola National Forest.
The typical missions performed by the Aviation Bureau include:
- Assist Uniform Patrol and Other Specialized Units
- VIP Security / Escort
- Aerial Searches for Suspects / Suspect Vehicles as well as Lost / Missing Persons
- Environmental Planning
- Aerial Larvicide (Mosquito) Spraying
- Aerial Deployment of SWAT Assets
- Flood / Storm Water Damage Assessment
- Aerial Photography / Videography
- Community Event Display / Demonstrations
- Assisting Other Agencies
- Powerline / Electric Facility Thermal Inspections