Air Support

In 1968, Fort Worth became the first city in Texas to use a helicopter in law enforcement. The first helicopter was a Bell 47G5 leased from Bell Helicopter on a six month trial basis. Two civilian pilots that had been ferrying helicopters from Bell to California for shipment to Vietnam came with the aircraft.

In 1972, with the use of federal funds, a private donation, city funds, and the 47G5 as a trade-in, two new Bell 47G4A helicopters were acquired. These new helicopters were equipped with nightsun lights, a 3-channel police radio, a siren, and a PA system.

The two Bell 47G4A helicopters were traded in 1976 for a Bell Jetranger 206B, and in 1980, a new Jetranger was purchased. In 1985, a Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) system and stabilized binoculars were purchased for the helicopter. The binoculars allows the flight officer to read a moving license plate from approximately 300 feet. The aircraft has a top speed of 140 mph.

In 1995, a new FLIR system was purchased with funds from the Crime Control and Prevention District. This system allows the helicopter observer to "see" persons through cover by the detection of body heat.

In May, 2004, the Fort Worth Police Department replaced an older helicopter with a new Bell 206 BIII. Some of the new equipment on the helicopter includes a Wescam thermal imager/tv camera; new DV recorder, computer with GPS mapping; LoJack receiver, Garmin GPS/comm for ATC use; and updated 800 mhz radio.