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Aviation Team

About the Aviation Team

Photo of Baltimore County Police Aviation Hangar in Middle River, Md.
Aviation Hangar at Martin State Airport

The Baltimore County Police Department (BCoPD) Aviation Team began in 1983 as a part-time, fixed-wing only program. Today, the Aviation Team provides 16 hours of patrol coverage nearly every day, with 24-hour, on-call availability in case of emergencies. Since 1983, the Team has flown nearly 48,000 flight hours without an accident.

The Team operates three Airbus AS350B3 helicopters with the designated call signs of “County Air” 1, 2 and 3.

The Aviation Team is based out of the Martin State Airport in Middle River, Maryland.

Why is the Helicopter Flying Over My Neighborhood?

The Aviation Team participates in a wide variety of police activity, including daily patrol and neighborhood crime-fighting. The helicopters are tools that are crucial to officer safety because they provide command and control, and valuable information during critical incidents such as:

  • Crimes in progress
  • Barricaded suspects
  • Suspects fleeing on foot or in a vehicle

The Aviation Team is also an invaluable asset in searching for critical missing children and elderly persons.

In 2020 the Aviation Team flew nearly 2,000 flight hours and responded to more than 4,000 calls and activities in support of patrol, specialized units, neighboring jurisdictions, and federal agencies. The total calls for service included more than 2,200 searches and resulted in 403 arrest assists, the recovery of 11 LOJACK equipped stolen vehicles and the location of 83 critical missing subjects, who returned home or to a medical facility.

Aviation Team Personnel

The Aviation Team consists of a supervisor, a sergeant and trained pilot, seven full-time officers and pilots, and three Tactical Flight Officers (TFOs). The pilots serve a dual role as pilot and TFO and must be proficient in the TFO skill set. Pilots and TFOs are selected from within the ranks of the Police Department.

To be eligible to apply for the officer and pilot position, applicants must possess an FAA commercial pilot license, FAA medical certificate (Second Class) and have a minimum of 1,000 turbine helicopter flight hours as a pilot in command.

To be eligible for selection as a TFO, applicants must have a minimum of five years of commendable departmental experience. TFOs come from varied backgrounds within the department in the fields of patrol, traffic and criminal investigation. Pilots and TFOs must complete a selection process including a resume review, an inflight practical evaluation, a panel interview and underwater egress training.

The Patrol Helicopter

See one of our State of the Art Patrol Units in action.

BCoPD's patrol helicopters are equipped with an array of multifrequency radios and mission equipment. The radios enable the crew to communicate simultaneously with air traffic control and nearby flying aircrafts, departmental ground units, neighboring law enforcement agencies, joint multijurisdictional task forces and federal agencies.

Each helicopter is equipped with an infrared thermal imager, a 30-million candlepower search light, a color video camera, a moving street map, a flight terrain and obstacle avoidance system, electronically stabilized binoculars, a LOJACK stolen auto signal receiver, microwave video downlink system and weather radar.

Revised May 28, 2021         


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