Minnesota State Patrol to increase flight patrols

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota State Patrol (MSP) is increasing flight patrols by 25 percent, according to a Wednesday Facebook post by the agency.

“The State Patrol is increasing flight times to better serve local law enforcement following discussions with local agencies and assessing the need,” the post stated.

“A portion of the increased flights will support HEAT enforcement patrols throughout the summer. The State Patrol will continue assessing this initiative and make any changes necessary to best support all Minnesotans.”

The State Patrol Flight Section is responsible for the support of state, county and local aerial law enforcement support. The flight Section is based in St. Paul and Brainerd.

There are nine state trooper pilots in the Flight Section who fly two Bell helicopters, three Cessna 182 airplanes and a Cirrus SR22 airplane.

All helicopters are equipped with thermal imagers, Night Sun spotlights and microwave down link equipment capable of transmitting a live video picture from the helicopter to a receiver — this live video can then be streamed online, according to the agency’s website.

Most helicopter flying is done during nighttime hours and all the pilots are equipped and trained to fly using night vision goggles.

The pilots are also trained in vertical reference flight allowing short haul, recall and close quarter loading operations used in search and rescue. These search and rescue missions are performed in conjunction with the MN Air Rescue Team (MART).

Tactical operations using the same skillsets are also performed by the State Patrol Special Response Team.

The Cessna 182 airplanes are used for traffic enforcement, transport of law enforcement personnel and surveillance.

The Minnesota State Patrol Flight Section was formed in 1957 with the purchase of two Piper Super Cub airplanes. The airplanes were used for spotting unreported crashes, stalls and other traffic obstructions and hazards. The airplanes were also used in traffic speed enforcement.

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