The Free Press, Mankato, MN

January 4, 2011

Ask a trooper: Does State Patrol have air wing?

By Sgt. Jacalyn Sticha
Minnesota State Patrol

Question:  Does the Minnesota State Patrol have an Air Wing?


Answer:  The MN State Patrol has a Flight Section with 9 pilots. They pilot three helicopters: a Bell 407, a Bell Long Ranger L1 and a Bell Long Ranger L4; four Cessna -182’s and a Beechcraft Queen Air. The MN State Patrol Flight Section resides at St. Paul’s Holman Field.

Their primary duty is searching and/or tracking people from traffic stops, crime scenes as well as lost or missing persons. Some units are equipped with technology to see body heat in the dark which makes us very successful when assisting in a search.

The MN State Patrol’s Flight Section often becomes involved in aerial photography for crashes, incident and disaster scenes and their documentation. They also transport various groups: bomb squads, chemical/hazmat assessment teams and dignitaries – just to name a few.   Many calls for service come from allied law enforcement agencies.

The MN State Patrol has a joint Special Response Team [SRT] trained in aviation rescue. The team can rappel to remote or inaccessible locations and do short hauls of victims (often in a natural disasters such as flooding).  The SRT transports the victim to a safe location where they be aided by emergency medical services and law enforcement.

The Flight Section has the capability of sending a live picture from a camera attached to the helicopter, making it possible to view the scene remotely. From a secure webpage the Command Centers can directly view the disaster site or incident in real time, enabling them to make well informed decisions as well as maintaining optimal safety for those on scene. 

If you have a traffic related question email MSP Sgt. Sticha @ Question may be edited and all questions are responded to even if not written about in an article.