The Knife & Fork

Special Edition

Ride Along With Fire Bird One

2 Nov 2006
by Warren McIlvoy


Recently, I had to opportunity to ride along with the air unit of the Phoenix Police Department in one of their helicopters commonly known as “Firebird One”.  I along with Brant Saperstein got a birds’ eye view of the city and in particular, Squaw Peak Park. 


On a cool November morning, we boarded the helicopter at Deer Valley Airport and headed southeast at an altitude of about 1,000’ agl and on coarse for a turn around the mountain park.  We waved at some of the hikers on the mountain and got some back.  I have hiked this mountain numerous times and I completely convinced that this method was a whole lot easier. 


Our activities involved looking for a bad guy that shot-up a Pitney Bows office earlier in the morning.  We observed some locations where the police thought that his vehicle may have been spotted.  We also flew out to Buckeye and observed the home of his parents but while doing that, the observer received a radio call that said that he was spotted entering an apartment around 30th Ave and Bethany Home.  We were advised to orbit about a mile out while the police on the ground worked to get him to surrender. 


After the perp had been taken into custody, we headed back to the Deer Valley Airport and was within 50’ of landing when suddenly we heard a call for officer assistance from a female office in foot pursuit.  We abruptly aborted the landing and made a hasty departure from the airport and headed south.  We were still a couple of miles from the scene when we got a call that said that the guy had been apprehended.  Just as sudden as aborting the landing, we made a hard banking turn and retraced our path back to the airport.  This time we did land and so ended our fun day with our “ride along” in Firebird One. 


The accompanying pictures will tell the story of our mission as well as give one a little different perspective of flying over the ground at a much lower altitude than we are used to.


Click on a Ride in Firebird One to view photos of this story.