Newly formed air fleet for Pinal County Sheriff's Department

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Lt. Scott Elliott pictured prior to a flight in the 1976 Piper Super Cub By Mike Gertzman Lt. Scott Elliott pictured prior to a flight in the 1976 Piper Super Cub By Mike Gertzman
PCSO MD 500E taking off from a hill top outside Casa Grande By Mike Gertzman PCSO MD 500E taking off from a hill top outside Casa Grande By Mike Gertzman
Lt. Scott Elliott pictured prior to a flight in the 1976 Piper Super Cub By Mike Gertzman Lt. Scott Elliott pictured prior to a flight in the 1976 Piper Super Cub By Mike Gertzman
Florence, Ariz. -- The Pinal County Sheriff's Department now has an airplane and a helicopter to assist in various operations.
 
The plane is a 1976 Piper Super Cub. It was obtained from the U.S. Border Patrol through a state surplus transfer. The helicopter is a MD 500E recently purchased with money from the state of Arizona. The aircrafts will be used for search and rescue missions and to combat human and drug smuggling.
 
The airplane has already assisted Pinal County deputies by providing crucial air support while warrants were served during Operation Pipeline Express in October. That operation targeted the Sinaloa Drug Cartel and resulted in the arrest of dozens of suspects and the seizure of thousands of pounds of marijuana.
 
According to Lieutenant Scott Elliott, head of the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, "With the size of our county being what it is and the demand for air support having become a daily need over the past several years, its time for us to have the tools needed to do the job ourselves and stop relying on other entities to do it for us."
 
"The use of an aviation unit during these critical missions will help us locate missing people faster and provide us the ability to immediately help those injured," said Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu.
 
"The use of a helicopter minimizes risks to our deputies on the ground in hostile terrain and during vehicle pursuits. Last year we had over 200 calls to locate missing individuals. The use of an Aviation Unit during these critical missions will help us locate missing people faster and provide us the ability to immediately help those injured."
 
Within the past month, the helicopter has been called out on a variety of cases to assist other agencies such as the U.S. Border Partol, Casa Grande Police, and the Pima County Sheriff's Office.