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Sheriff's Office

Air Support Unit

The Air Support Unit consists of 2 full-time helicopter pilot, 1 full-time mechanic, and five volunteer pilots. The Air Support Unit utilizes Search and Rescue Deputies as Tactical Flight Officers within the unit. Funding for the unit is provided by the State of Arizona and RICO (anti racketeering) seizure funds, and Federal Government grant money. Currently, funds from the County General Fund are not utilized. We have acquired parts, equipment, tools and all three of the department’s helicopters from the LESO 1033 Program Office. Use of the surplus program has allowed us to procure everything from flight helmets to a fuel truck with only 5,000 miles on it for basically the cost of shipping items.

One of the PCSO Air Support Unit’s primary functions is search and rescue.  With the addition of a UH-1V rotorcraft helicopter to our fleet, PCSO can increase its functionality and mission capability exponentially.  The UH-1V is capable of seating 13 individuals including crew.  It has far better mission power and capabilities then our two smaller helicopters.  Training has begun within our unit in the UH-1V platform.  We are currently working on personnel ingress/egress and will later expand to other profiles such as short hauls, and possibly hoist operations. 

The two smaller helicopters in the fleet (Pinal Air 3 & Pinal Air 4) are great search platforms and can also be utilized for personnel transport as needed, with restrictions on weight and environmental factors, as typical with any aircraft.  Pinal Air 4 is able to carry two passengers in the rear and is not set up for stokes basket or skid ride operations.  Pinal Air 3 is currently being utilized for stokes basket rescue and skid insertion/removal. 




Desert Interdiction
The PCSO Air Support Unit has developed many skills while in operation over the last 5 years.  We pride ourselves on our exceptional desert interdiction and aerial tracking abilities.  Each of our crew members work diligently to keep up on current smuggling trends, scout locations, smuggling routes and interagency relationships. 

The unit is routinely asked to assist the US Border Patrol’s West Desert Task Force along with the Silverbell Initiative and general requests from USBP agents.  Pinal Air is able to work seamlessly with Border Patrol, providing aerial assistance.  Often times, we are able to locate targets quickly, which saves the USBP man hours. 

Each helicopter is equipped with spot lights and NVG compatible cockpits for night missions.  For day missions, our pilots and aircraft are highly effective due the ability to get low enough to track human foot sign and vehicle sign.  Pinal Air is also able to transport personnel to various locations to include mountainous terrain.  Once drugs are located, Pinal Air is able to transport the bails to nearby vehicles or a predetermined location. 

The PCSO air unit is credited for seizing over 20,000lbs of marijuana since its inception.  Countless apprehensions, stolen vehicles, and seizures have occurred as a direct result of the air assets.  

Patrol Support  Each helicopter the PCSO operates is capable of providing aerial support for patrol operations.  Pinal Air 3 & Pinal Air 4 are both outfitted with a spot light and an NVG compatible cockpit along with the TFO having a set of gyro stabilized binoculars.  Pinal Air is able to respond quickly to all areas in the county to assist with all types of calls for service.  During pursuits, the aircraft has been essential in the successful outcome and location of many fleeing subjects.  We also respond to missing persons, crimes in progress, follow up investigations, traffic collision investigations/photographs, perimeter establishments, floods, fires, large scale incidents, etc.

Other Operations: PCSO Air Assets are also utilized by CIB, K-9, Fire, Pinal County Government, outside agencies etc. for various missions.  These missions have included photos for various government entities, flood surveys, disaster relief, wild land fires, sex offender accountability, public relations events, aerial command and control, ranch/range patrol, training, intel gathering, cargo/logistics, personnel transport, US military training missions and various other missions as dictated.