News and culture through the lens of Southern California.
Hosted by A Martínez
Airs Weekdays 9 to 10 a.m.

What's it like to fly on an LAPD helicopter patrol?




Tactical officer Greg MacDonald points his pilot Kevin Cook toward a spot to check as calls come in from LAPD dispatch.
Tactical officer Greg MacDonald points his pilot Kevin Cook toward a spot to check as calls come in from LAPD dispatch.
Grant Slater/KPCC
Tactical officer Greg MacDonald points his pilot Kevin Cook toward a spot to check as calls come in from LAPD dispatch.
The view towards Santa Monic from a shift with the Los Angeles Police Department's helicopter division.
Grant Slater/KPCC
Tactical officer Greg MacDonald points his pilot Kevin Cook toward a spot to check as calls come in from LAPD dispatch.
An LAPD helicopter flies toward Downtown Los Angeles on December 19, 2012.
Grant Slater/KPCC
Tactical officer Greg MacDonald points his pilot Kevin Cook toward a spot to check as calls come in from LAPD dispatch.
A police helicopter takes off from the Los Angeles Police Department helipad in Downtown. During the day, there is always one helicopter in the air patrolling the city skies.
Grant Slater/KPCC
Tactical officer Greg MacDonald points his pilot Kevin Cook toward a spot to check as calls come in from LAPD dispatch.
LAPD helicopter pilot Kevin Cook exits the helipad after a three-hour shift in the skies above Los Angeles.
Grant Slater/KPCC
Tactical officer Greg MacDonald points his pilot Kevin Cook toward a spot to check as calls come in from LAPD dispatch.
LAPD helicopter pilot Kevin Cook watches a colleague come in for a landing at the helicopter division's downtown helipad.
Grant Slater/KPCC


Listen to story

04:16
Download this story 8.0MB

At the end of the month, the FAA will propose new rules designed to reduce helicopter noise over Southern California , but don't expect it to go away entirely. The rules won't apply to medical or police choppers.

The nation’s largest police helicopter fleet lives  in downtown Los Angeles. The L.A. Police Department owns and operates 17 helicopters that cover  nearly 500 square miles of the city, from the San Fernando Valley to San Pedro.

Most of them launch and land around the clock from the police department’s spacious helipad, located just west of the Los Angeles River.  

In the first of three reports, KPCC's Erika goes airborne on patrol.