PODCAST: ‘On the Go With BCSO’ With Sheriff Wayne Ivey Discusses the BCSO Aviation Unit

By  //  September 6, 2019

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ON THE GO WITH BCSO COVERS THE Latest Crime Trends AND Catching Criminals

ON THE GO WITH BCSO: Brevard County Sheriff’s Office latest edition of “On The Go BCSO” discusses the latest crime trends, catching criminals and various programs. In this edition, Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey, Sgt. Jay Martinez and Chief Pilot John Coppola discuss BCSO’s Aviation unit.

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Brevard County Sheriff’s Office latest edition of “On The Go BCSO” discusses the latest crime trends, catching criminals and various programs within the agency.

Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey, Sgt. Jay Martinez and BCSO Chief Pilot John Coppola discuss BCSO’s Aviation unit.

When it comes to law enforcement, and especially the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office’s Aviation Unit, maintaining those high standards safely and cost-effectively is essential and is the duty of the aviation unit’s Chief Pilot John Coppola of Rockledge.

Coppola began his love for law enforcement in 1979 when he was sworn in as a Deputy Sheriff with the Brevard County Sheriff’ Office. During his early career, he served as a patrol deputy in numerous precincts and in special units.

He rapidly rose through the ranks, from patrol deputy, deputy first class, corporal, sergeant and lieutenant.

Law enforcement veteran John Coppola is the Chief Pilot and leads the Brevard County Sheriff’s Aviation Unit. (Image by John M. Egan)

Passion for flight

Among his many assignments, he led the special operations unit, which included the aviation unit. It was there his passion for flight took off.

“I was intrigued with flying and especially helicopters,” said Coppola.

“At the time we had one helicopter with only two seats. I would often ride along with the pilot and assist him as an observer, looking for other aircraft in the area for safety and directing the pilot-to-ground activities which were being conducted by the patrol deputies”

“I knew this was for me,” he said.”On my own and with my out-of-pocket expense, I started training with a ground instructor at a local aviation school.

“Later on, when I had an opportunity to get away for an hour or so from the office, I would jump in with one of our pilots who was a certified flight instructor.

“I built up my flight time and eventually, I built up enough time and instructions to where I was ready for my check ride. In 1994, I became a licensed helicopter pilot. It is a fantastic job, I love law enforcement and to fly helicopters too, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

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BREVARD COUNTY SHERIFF’S AVIATION UNIT FACTS

• A helicopter’s ceiling is 18,000 feet. After 3,000 to 4,000 feet, they become ineffective. They fly mostly at an altitude of between 500 and 700 hundred feet.

• Speed varies depending on the winds, generally 85 to 125 mph.

• The helicopter can remain aloft for approximately two hours and with the use of a fuel extender an additional half hour, for a total of 2 1/2 hours. A fuel extender is an internal compartment which can be filled with additional fuel.

• In remote areas with the need to remain in the area for an extended time, fuel can be transported to a nearby clearing. The helicopter will set down and refuel.

• If a need exists in remote areas for a K-9 search dog, the dog and its handler will be flown to the site. Prior to this and as part of their training, the K-9 and handlers from several local law enforcement departments will have test flights to be certain the dog is calm and can acclimate to the helicopter and sound.

• On-call 24/7, the unit responds to about 1,200 calls each year, with a flying time between 600 to 800 hours annually.

• Cocoa, Melbourne and Palm Bay Police Departments make up the majority of their calls for assistance.

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