“Star 97” Newest Addition To The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department

“Star 97” Newest Addition

To The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department

Written by Trevor Montgomery

Hemet, Calif.; The  newest addition to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Aviation Unit, a brand new helicopter, dubbed, “Star 97”, has arrived at the Hemet-Ryan Facility and is being readied to soon enter active service in flight rotation, patrolling the skies of Riverside County.

With the level of crime and the costs associated with combating that increased crime in certain areas bringing increased concern and focus on the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and how it allocates it’s funds, this new helicopter will be a welcome and very necessary addition to the county’s patrol force countywide.

Last year, Sheriff Stan Sniff requested two new helicopters for public safety operations. The county will finance the purchases, which will cost $11.5M. One helicopter will take the place of a Vietnam-era aircraft that’s overdue for retirement.


A Riverside County sheriff’s helicopter after it crashed on the northeast end of Hemet-Ryan Airport in August, 2014. No one was killed. Photo Credit: Press Enterprise

The other helicopter is meant to replace a helicopter that was destroyed in a crash at the Hemet-Ryan Airport in August, 2014. Riverside County officials have previously stated insurance proceeds from the crashed helicopter will cover nearly $2M of the overall cost.


Hemet firefighters spray foam on the wreckage. Photo Credit: Press Enterprise

In that incident, a Riverside County sheriff’s helicopter crashed at the northeast end of the Hemet-Ryan Airport, during a low-flying training exercise, sheriff’s spokesman Albert Martinez said at the time. According to Martinez, no one was seriously injured aboard the helicopter, however the two deputies aboard suffered minor injuries. Both deputies were treated at the scene by emergency first responders and were later taken to a local hospital as a precautionary measure, Martinez said.

About the crash, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said the A-Star helicopter did not collide with another aircraft, but it rolled over while it’s pilot was practicing landing with a simulated engine power outage.

Hemet firefighters sprayed foam on the wreckage, which did not ignite, while Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department rescuers treated the deputies.


“Star 97” seen flying through Lamb Canyon today, while searching for a vehicle involved in a single vehicle rollover traffic collision. The vehicle turned out to be stolen. Photo Credit: Scott Gordon

Back when the funds for the purchases were authorized, Sheriff Sniff said, “We are very pleased that the Board of Supervisors approved the acquisition of two new helicopters today and that the County Executive Office was able to coordinate the financing of those aircraft.” Sheriff Sniff continued in a statement, “The sheriff’s department utilizes these powerful law enforcement tools throughout Riverside County to better protect our communities and our deputies and police officers.”

Photo Credit: Press Enterprise

Photo Credit: Press Enterprise

Sniff has previously said the helicopters are an absolutely critical key in investigating crimes, assisting in disasters situations and during the sheriff’s department’s regular search and rescue missions in the county’s mountains and remote desert areas. These helicopters also safeguard citizen volunteers and deputies from undue risk and danger. Sheriff Sniff also has previously stated the eventual goal of positioning some of its aircraft in the Coachella Valley on a permanent basis at the Thermal Sheriff’s Station, which Sniff said will better support Eastern Riverside County.

Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com


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