Thursday, March 20, 2008
Helicopters Become Black and Whites in the SkyLos Angeles: The Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) Air Support Division (ASD) recently unveiled two police helicopters with a new black and white color scheme. The new design represents an effort to develop a closer bond with uniformed police officers on the ground and to underscore the fact that ASD pilots and aircraft are in the air 24/7 as backup.
The ASD motto is: “The Mission is the Same Only the Vehicle Has Changed.” In the spirit of that motto, a number of ASD officers approached their commanding officer in late 2007 with a request to change the paint scheme of Department helicopters to mirror the distinctive black and white patrol vehicles that have traditionally served the City of Los Angeles.
Following several weeks of meetings and discussions, a final decision on the new color scheme was finally made, and the first two black and white helicopters debuted in February 2008 at the Annual Helicopter Association International Convention in Houston, Texas. The new paint job received rave reviews from thousands of convention attendees.
The ASD was established as a unit in 1956 to help control traffic on the City’s congested streets.
The unit was actually a test program and involved the deployment of only a single helicopter. Eventually, the concept of using helicopters to fight crime took hold, and in 1968 the unit was enlarged to a section under the control of the Tactical Operations Group. By 1971, the section was operating eleven helicopters in Air Support to Regular Operations (ASTRO), and in 1974 the section was reorganized as a division.
Currently, ASD’s fleet consists of 17 helicopters and one King Air 200, a turbine-powered airplane. The primary mission of ASD is still ASTRO. However, the division also provides aerial support and transportation to members of the Department’s SWAT platoon, Explosives Section (Bomb Squad), Underwater Dive Unit and Emergency Operations Division. The ASD is staffed by 98 dedicated men and women, both sworn and civilian. Of the total personnel, 24 are Tactical Flight Officers, 37 are command pilots, 10 are sergeants, three are lieutenants and there is one captain. Plus, the commanding officer and all of the sergeants and lieutenants are also command pilots.