TULSA, Okla — The Tulsa Police Department's Air Support Unit provides aerial support to officers on the ground.
The unit calls themselves a force multiplier, meaning when they are on scene, they can cover an area that normally takes 10 officers to cover. It all starts with a pre-flight check, then the aircraft is pushed out of the hangar and into the waiting sun.
“After we do a pre-flight check and wheel out the aircraft, we let our dispatchers know that we are available for calls," said Lt. Nick Cory.
2 News went onboard as the group of men prepared for the day ahead. The unit is made up of two helicopters and a team of 8 led by Lt. Nick Cory. They are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The helicopter becomes their mobile command center and features a host of features to make any tech-geek jealous, including a high-definition camera system with an incredible zoom capability.
"We have the Oryan light system which is a 40 million kilo power spotlight which is pretty neat. The other part of that light system that is beneficial is that it stays to our camera so even though we don’t have it on at the time, wherever our camera is looking or panning, the light is also going with it," said Cory.
The air support team is often called to pursuits, burglaries, armed robberies, and shootings.
"On our screen wherever the camera is looking at, the streets and addresses of all the houses are labeled on the screen so we can tell the officer the exact location of the person hiding," Cory explained.
One of the most important and urgent calls they respond to are missing children.
"When those 4 missing children in Vian were lost, they were gone since 2:30 in the afternoon, and all of the local authorities used all their resources until about 8:30 and couldn’t find them, so they called us," he said.
That's when Lt. Cory said he immediately sent two of his guys down to Vian. The flight took 40 minutes, and as soon as they arrived, they began a 2-hour search, but at that time were unable to find them.
"We stopped in Tahlequah and got fuel. At the time it was so cold, and you know these kids were all under 10 and both my guys are dads of young children and they said we can’t leave here until we find them, so they went back up and searched almost another two hours and saw this little, blip on the infrared camera. It was someone waving, and it was them, so it was a huge deal," says Cory.
He said it's those outcomes that make every moment spent in the air worth it.
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