I served on the 209th District Court Grand Jury from May through July, 2005.
Grand jurors have the opportunity to be exposed to a number of activities in the
Houston Police Department, the Harris County Sheriff's Department and
the organization of the District Attorney of Harris County.
I was able to join the Houston Police Department's Helicopter Division
during one of their regular daily patrols.
The patrol ride illustrated by the following photos took place
from 7:30pm - 9:00pm on Monday, May 30, 2005.
The helicopter for this particular patrol run is shown. It is referred to as "73 Fox".
There are two different types of helicopters in the HPD hangar.
The hangar is on the grounds of Hobby Airport.
The seat where Rex will ride in "73 Fox".
The pilot and observer seats on "73 Fox".
A special two-seater used for pilot training. The HPD trains all their own pilots.
An earlier patrol returns to base.
Observer "Van" Cochrane (left) and pilot Mark Foster begin to move our helicopter out of the hangar for take-off.
Officers Foster and Cochrane continue the pre take-off check of "73 Fox".
Forward view from the observer's seat.
Rex is buckled in ready for take-off. No doors are used during the flight except in inclement winter weather.
During the last part of the patrol, we landed on a heliport in Kemah and Rex moved to the front observer seat.
Officer Cochrane hooks up for radio communications between all three of us.
Officer Foster completes final checks before take-off.
The instrument panel is populated with all of the usual gauges. Two extra items not found in commercial
operations are a GPS based mapping system very similar to what is found in automobiles today
and a "Low-Jack" tracking system which will track automobiles equipped with that device.
A wind sock is used to assure take off is into the prevailing wind.
Rex is set for take off. Due to the open doors and the location of the rotors immediately overhead,
earplugs are also worn under the radio headset.
Rex also had to securely anchor his glasses to avoid losing them in the high winds.
Lifting off from the private aviation area at Hobby Airport.
The main runways at Hobby are nearby.
We quickly gain normal patrol altitude of around 600 feet.
The observer, Officer Cochrane, monitors ground activity and the calls on the police radio.
The "Low-Jack" receiver used to track properly equipped automobiles. The photo is slightly
out of focus due to vibration in the helicopter.
We head towards downtown for the first part of our patrol.
PLAY BALL!! We head towards Minute Maid Park.
We circle towards Toyota Center.
A backwards look as we move west away from Minute Maid Park.
The criminal justice center and the still under construction civil justice center.
More views of downtown buildings.
River Oaks Country Club - a bit out of focus due to flight vibration and failing light.
We circle the Ross home. Adrian is waving from the back yard, but Rosie continues her nap.
The Houston skyline presents a great view.
Flash photography provides a more detailed view of the instrument panel.
Some Final Observations.
This experience was interesting in that it provided an in-depth look at how a key element of the
Houston Police Department, the Helicopter Patrol Division, operates
It also clearly demonstrated the dedication and professionalism that characterizes the more than 30 officers of this unit.
It was an honor to be part of the HPD Helicopter Patrol Division, even if only for a couple of hours.