Air Support Unit

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Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Helicopter

The TH-67 Creek is a single engine, utility helicopter designed to take-off and land from any reasonably level terrain. It is the military version of the well-known Bell 206BIII, or JetRanger, helicopter.  The standard configuration provides for one pilot, one instructor/copilot, and one observer.  The OH-58 Kiowa is also a single engine, observation helicopter used primarily by the U.S. Army.  The configuration of the Kiowa is a four-place aircraft capable of carrying heavier loads than the TH-67.  The Shelby County Aviation Unit consists of one full-time employee, two part-time employees, and one volunteer reserve pilot.


The Bell 206 JetRanger is a valuable asset.  The Sheriff’s helicopters were acquired through the Federal Government’s 1033 Program, which requires only a small annual fee per agency to participate.  The TH-67 and OH-58 aircraft were based at Ft. Rucker Army Air Field until they were acquired between 2015 and 2017.  The primary mission there was initial training for U.S. Army aviation pilots and were maintained to the highest military specifications.  There are no weapons mounted on the aircraft and none will be used for any law enforcement missions.  After initial inspections and repairs, the Shelby County Aviation Unit has been able to operate its 3 aircraft at a small cost per aircraft per year.  Currently, Shelby County has acquired additional aircraft from another agency and are looking towards being able to utilize them in backup capacity throughout the coming years.


The Sheriff’s Office will improve on its delivery of law enforcement services with these public-use air assets to assist our deputies and others on the ground, subject to maintenance schedules and severe weather.  Also, with the support of our IT Department, all aircraft are now equipped with radios that allow direct communication with our Dispatch and all local law enforcement Dispatchers around the county.  Shelby County helicopters can operate both day and night and have the capability, with powerful searchlights, to assist many different missions.  Missions will include:

Patrol/Traffic control

Surveillance and photo/reconnaissance

Search and Rescue (Project Lifesaver)

Disaster Response

Partnerships with other local public safety agencies (Police and Fire)

Partnerships with other Shelby County Departments (Planning, Parks, Highway)

Command and Control

The Shelby County Airport, where these aircraft are based, is owned by the Shelby County Commission and the Sheriff’s Office has an established and certified helicopter landing site at the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.  The Sheriff’s Air Unit will have a dedicated mission to significantly improve the quality of services we are currently able to provide to our citizens. These aircraft will give us an immediate answer to the challenges we face and the ability to plan for the future development of our county down the road.