Both of the surplus Highway Patrol helicopters assigned to the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office are undamaged, and are expected to be flying this week.
County commissioner Edwin Russ brief the commissioners on the status of the two Bell Rangers Monday during the regular meeting of the board.
Rumors of one of the choppers being damaged were discussed at a previous meeting, and Russ said he accepted an invitation from Sheriff Jody Greene to examine both aircraft.
One is currently housed at the Columbus Regional Airport, where it is ready for deployment at any time. The second chopper is at the Elizabethtown airport undergoing routine maintenance.
“Both are expected to be flying this week,” Russ said. “I saw no damage to either one, and I was assured the one here was ready to go any time.”
Rumors began spreading earlier this summer after a large boom truck was seen lifting the second helicopter onto a trailer. The truck, operated by Joe Jacobs’ Wrecker Service, is the only one in the area capable of properly and safely lifting a helicopter, Russ said. The helicopter was then transported to Elizabethtown, where it is being serviced by a firm specializing in rotary wing aircraft.
The two helicopters were obtained at no cost to the county through a state program that matches government surplus with law enforcement agencies. The county is responsible for maintenance, fuel and operating personnel.
The CCSO has around $9 million in vehicles and heavy equipment obtained through the Law Enforcement Support Services program.