The Placer County Sheriff's Office provides air support services throughout the county. The Air Support Unit’s aircraft consists of Falcon 30 and Eagle 2. Falcon 30 is an American Eurocopter AS 350 B3 AStar, a five-seat helicopter (as configured, capable of seating six.) Powered by an 870 HP Turbomeca Arriel-2B1 turbine engine, Falcon 30’s response speed is approximately 135 mph, service ceiling is 20,000 feet, range is approximately 250 miles and typical endurance is close to two hours.
Falcon 30 aircrews are highly experienced, fly with ANVIS 9 Pinnacles™ Night Vision Goggles during night operations, have received specialized rescue training and conduct law enforcement patrol, marijuana eradication, short haul, long line, external cargo, water rescue, search and rescue and rescue hoist operations, day or night.
Falcon 30 is equipped with a modern avionics package: glass cockpit, GPS moving map systems, multi-channel communications systems (which are capable of communications on all allied agencies radio systems throughout and surrounding Placer County), public address system, satellite phone, high definition day surveillance camera, night infrared imaging camera and a high-powered spotlight. Falcon 30’s rescue hoist can lift a 500 pound load and has 164 feet of cable. Falcon 30 can also sling load Aup to 1660 pounds of cargo.
Falcon 30 is named after Sacramento Police Officer Bill Bean, a former Placer County deputy sheriff. Bill was killed in the line of duty on February 9, 1999, in a Sacramento shooting. Bill was a star football player for the Colfax Falcons and grew up in Placer County. His jersey number was 30. Bill was an inspiration to all who knew him.
Falcon 30’s FAA tail number (N911WL) is also very significant. 911 is in tribute to the lives lost on September 11, 2001. W honors Deputy Paul ‘Woody’ Woodruff, the first Placer County Sheriff’s Office helicopter pilot and founder of the helicopter program. Woody was killed in a civilian helicopter training accident on April 10, 2003. L is in memory of Chief Warrant Officer-Five Arthur ‘Art’ Laguna, who also flew as a volunteer pilot for Placer County. While flying security protection for U.S. diplomats in Iraq, Art was killed when his helicopter was shot down on January 27, 2007. Woody and Art both contributed immeasurably to the Placer County Air Support Unit and will never be forgotten.
Falcon 30's primary purpose is to provide air support and backup for the deputies on the ground, hence the motto, “Protection from Above.” This is accomplished through responding to backup deputies, providing aerial surveillance for deputies, routine patrol, crime suppression, photo, video and infrared surveillance, crime scene photography or video, search and rescue missions, hoist rescue operations, sling load cargo operations, homeland security missions, assistance in narcotics operations including marijuana eradication and other emergency missions.
Eagle 2 is our fixed wing partner in the Air Support Unit. Eagle 2 is a Piper Navajo twin, capable of long distance, high-speed travel. The primary mission of Eagle 2 is the transportation of prisoners, department administration and other county personnel within California and the western states.