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Police Department

Aviation Unit

Flight Operations patchIn 1990, the Metro Nashville Police Department’s Aviation Unit purchased McDonnell Douglas 500E helicopters. One of the helicopters was purchased with confiscated drug monies. The 500E helicopters are equipped with Allison C-20B250 jet engines. Their top speed is over 150 mph. They can sustain a cruising speed of approximately 130 mph.

Aviation personnel

The department acquired eight Bell OH58A/C helicopters through the military surplus program with no local burden to taxpayers. These helicopters have been retrofitted and are now in service.

OH58 helicopter

The helicopters have special search equipment including Sunburst 15 million candlepower search lights, Avalex brand moving map systems, and F.L.I.R. brand (forward looking infrared) color camera systems with microwave downlinks. The F.L.I.R. systems provide the crew with night vision (thermal imaging) and digital recording capabilities.

Helicopter equipment

OH58 helicopter in flight

Aviation crews respond to over two thousand (2,000) calls for service each year. These calls include searches for lost children, escaped prisoners, fleeing felons, vehicle pursuits, vice operations, drug eradications, and searches for victims of murder or suicide. The Aviation Unit will respond to any call for service that is better handled by the performance of an aerial equipment platform.

Bell OH58A/C helicopter

Helicopter in flight

The Aviation Unit also participates in marijuana eradication during the outdoor marijuana growing season. Aviation officers have been very successful in spotting outdoor marijuana grow operations. Once an operation is located an investigation and subsequent eradication is conducted.

Using the helicopters to discover marijuana plants

McDonnell Douglas 500E helicopter

Aviation section eradicating marijuana plants


Officer Hansel and Lt. Spencer
Officer Hansel and Lt. Spencer