DPS helicopter thrills youngsters
By Robin Scott
Pilot Clay “Rodeo” Shelton and Tactical Flight Officer Wayne “Dawg” Beighle landed the copter at 12:30 PM just as the children were getting ready to walk out onto the tarmac. The children got a double dose of excitement as a small plane was taking off just as the copter was landing. The children, ages 3 and 4, wanted to know things like how fast the aircraft could fly and if they could fly in the helicopter.
“Dawg” explained to the children what the equipment on board the aircraft was for and pointed out several special features. He showed the students where a camera is mounted in the front, and a spotlight in the back. The sophistication of the helicopter’s gadgets was a little over the heads of the youngsters, but the teachers and parents nearby were enthralled. The helicopter is equipped with a huge jet engine, infrared camera and night vision capabilities. Officer Beighle noted the great need for it within the panhandle. The helicopter will be used in search and rescue missions, pursuits and manhunts.
The children were able to take turns climbing up for a look into the cockpit of the aircraft. They were amazed by the officers’ helmets, which looked like something from a sci-fi movie. Mrs. Elizabeth Howe, whose husband is a DPS Trooper, commented that the children were very excited when the aircraft landed. She is a teacher for the head start program at Dalhart Elementary School. She noted, “They really got excited when they saw the small plane taking off, and then realized that the helicopter was landing.”
The helicopter was a part of a $3 Million purchase in 2007 and made it possible for DPS in Amarillo to have use of it on a daily base for the panhandle. Officer Beighle stated that one of the things he gets to do that he enjoys is telling school children about the helicopter. Both Beighle and Shelton wore green flight suits that were specially designed for them. They both wear handguns that are holstered in a shoulder holster, which the children were also curious about. Beighle noted, “We are officers too, so we do carry weapons.”For more information on the history of aircraft use by DPS see www.txdps.state.tx.us/aircraft.