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'Fly girl' takes flight in Sheriff's helicopter
I would like to thank everyone that has been so kind to me since my cancer was discovered. Your notes, letters and cards have been wonderful.
So many of my friends have helped me. A big thank you to Laurie Savage. She has been to almost every appointment with me. I feel like each day is a gift but it’s not always the easiest to get through certain days.
It has been three months now and the doctor said it could take up to a year to get through the different stages. The biggest concern is that the non-aggressive cancer stays that way. I get tired easily but love to be “out and about” with my family and friends.
Again, thank you and please take care of your health.
Hello, Hesperia! After my battle with cancer I knew I needed a real lift before I started writing to you again. And I found there's no better way to lift the spirits than to fly with Sheriff's Aviation in their helicopter.
A few weeks ago, I was asked by Sheriff’s pilot Mike Gilley if I’d ever been in one. I said
I had been in a plane many times, but never a helicopter. Mike asked if I wanted to do a ride-along in the helicopter.
“Yes! When?” I answered.
“Just let me know,” Gilley said.
On March 13, I met Deputy Gilley and Deputy Dave Carney at the Apple Valley Airport. Deputy Gilley has been with the Sheriff’s Department for 14 years and assigned as a helicopter pilot in aviation for the past two years. Deputy Carney has been with the Sheriff’s Department for 19 years, assigned to Aviation as a tactical flight officer for the past five years.
Taking off takes preparation. They helped me into the helicopter then gave me instructions on what I needed to do. I was belted into my seat and given a headset, which allowed us to talk to each other during the flight. With the headset on, there’s a muffled sound from the roar of the propellers but I was able to talk to them by pushing a button on my headphone. The sound of the propellers running made my heart beat faster.
I was their extra set of eyes and part of the crew for that flight. Once running, they hover taxied, then up in the air we went! The patrol speed is 70 mph. If an emergency call comes in they can reach speeds of 150 mph. They can land and take law enforcement action. They also have handcuffs and weapons with them because they never know when they’ll need them.
When we took off, I kept saying, “This is so awesome!” I couldn’t believe how different a helicopter is than a plane. I could see everything. People, I think some of you have fish in your pools! Clean it up, Hesperia! It’s a totally different rush in a helicopter and I absolutely loved it.
We went on a call and came back to the airport to refuel. About half an hour later, we went up again. It was sunset and the view of our valley was breathtaking. As it got darker, more lights appeared over the cities and it was even more beautiful. We went on a call in Phelan and were asked to look for a vehicle. We found it and directed the ground units to its location. Then we continued with proactive patrol when another call came in from Yucca Valley. Because of the distance, we had to land again to refuel. After four hours in the helicopter, I decided to end my ride-along before they went out to Yucca Valley.
They gave me a beautiful memory of seeing our community from above. All the families and children I have known, all the wonderful things that happen in our community and the burden of dealing with my cancer seemed so far away. I really needed this day. While looking out over the valley from the helicopter, it was hard for me to believe people could commit crimes in this beautiful place when we all have much to be thankful for. I have been here since 1978 and how I love this desert!
I want to thank Deputy Gilley and Deputy Carney for making this day the most enjoyable experience I’ve had in a long time. I will treasure this forever, along with an increased respect and admiration I have for law enforcement — protecting us on the ground and from the air. They are there for us, please always remember that.
I love you, Hesperia.
P.S. In case you were wondering, I did not get air sick. For me, that is a gold star!