The History of the Aviation Command

Picture of first helicopter in the Maryland State Police AviationThe Maryland State Police Aviation Command was established in 1961 to provide airborne law enforcement and aerial search and rescue support for the Maryland State Police and allied law enforcement agencies in Maryland and its neighbors. Since then our missions have included routine traffic patrol, monitoring of special events, surveillance of criminal activity, tracking of escapees and suspects, and searches for missing children. Advances in technology have allowed us to enhance our capabilities throughout the use of Forward Looking Infrared (the "FLIR") and the 30,000,000 candle power Nite Sun search light on State Police Helicopters. These tools allow helicopter crews to see deep into the night to locate hiding criminals or lost children and direct ground units to their location. The helicopter provides a panoramic platform for the police commander to evaluate an event, allowing for a more efficient operation. During a vehicle pursuit, ground units may reduce their speed and the suspect vehicle can be observed from above with the pursuit terminating until safer conditions prevail. This helps shelter citizens from the fleeing vehicle. You can't outrun a helicopter.

On March 19, 1970 our role was expanded and the world of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) wasDr. R Adams Cowley. Dr. Cowley, the founder of Shock Traumachanged forever. On that day, we were the first civilian agency to transport a critically injured trauma patient by helicopter. Never before had this been done in a non-military setting.

The driving force behind this expansion into the area of medical evacuation (medevac) was Dr. R Adams Cowley. Dr. Cowley, the founder of Shock Trauma in Baltimore, believed that medevac transportation of critically injured patients to Shock Trauma would save lives. He was right. Since the early 1970's, Shock Trauma and the Maryland State Police have earned a worldwide reputation as the leaders in trauma care.

Today the Aviation Command performs five separate mission profiles using the same aircraft and crew: medevac, aerial law enforcement, search and rescue, homeland security, and disaster assessment.

What began with one helicopter to cover the entire state has grown to include Helicopter Sections, Maintenance Operations , Support Operations and Administration . Since 1970, the helicopter sections of the Aviation Command have completed over 180,000 missions and have transported over 120,000 patients.

The Aviation Command also operates a Fixed Wing Section with two fixed wing aircraft. The twin engine airplane is used primarily to extradite prisoners who are wanted by the State of Maryland. The smaller single engine airplane is used for selected law enforcement missions (such as speed enforcement, surveillance and crime scene photography) at a significant cost saving compared to a helicopter.

The Aviation Command is the only flight program in Maryland that performs medevac, aerial law enforcement, search and rescue, homeland security, and disaster assessment.

We hope to continue to improve the services we provide well into the new millennium.​

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