In Detail

The mission of the St. Louis City, St. Charles County and St. Louis County Police Department’s Metro Air Support Unit is:

  • To perform search, rescue, recovery and care for victims injured, lost or in life hazard situations anywhere in the region
  • To provide homeland security
  • To support fire and medical teams
  • To assist other public safety agencies in the protection of lives, personal property and natural resources during emergencies and disasters
  • To provide airborne law enforcement assistance to the region

A Tradition of Excellence

Since 1971, the police air support unit has performed with professionalism, humility and generosity in its mission to provide an unparalleled aerial response to search and locate lost children and elderly, to rescue victims of the Great Flood of 1993, to ensure the safety of police officers riding on our streets and to prevent and deter criminal activities.

Responding to the Need for Service

In 1985, the department made the responsible decision to make the transition from Bell 47 helicopters to MD500E’s. The increase in speed, power, equipment and mission capability provided a greater benefit to the region. During the early ’90s, the department acquired two additional Hughes OH-6A aircraft through the Department of Defense re-utilization program. This program made it possible for the air support unit to continue to expand its capabilities and reduce its operating expenditures. These aircraft support patrol missions but are limited to rescue operations. The Hughes helicopters were manufactured in 1968 and used during the Vietnam conflict. All current OH-6A’s saw combat during the conflict, and one of our helicopters was shot down in Cambodia. Because of their age and difficulty in locating parts to maintain them to the standards of the Federal Aviation Administration, we are seeking to replace them with updated equipment.

In 1996, The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department acquired a military surplus OH58 helicopter. It began operations with this single helicopter and one pilot. Because of budget constraints over the years, the Cities Flight Operation has continued to operate just one helicopter with one pilot.

In 1999, the St. Louis County Police Department, the Monarch Fire District and the Metro-West Fire Department joined efforts and developed the Special Operations Aviation Rescue Team (SOAR). At no extra cost to area citizens, this team has been developed to respond quickly to swift-water, confined-area and high-rise rescue missions. SOAR has the ability to rescue individuals who are stranded on burning buildings, adrift in the many waterways surrounding our area, injured in locations inaccessible to vehicles and victims of terrorist attack.