Modesto Police Look To Establish Air Support Unit With Gyroplane

There is a new tool in the Modesto Police Department’s belt, a gyroplane, which is part of a six-month pilot program for the department as it looks to establish its air fleet.

Video Transcript

- A new crime fighting tool is taking flight in Modesto.

- So what is it? New at 6:00, CBS 13's Brian Hill gives us a bird's eye view from the Department's new Eye in the Sky.

- Modesto police are now armed with some new arsenal-- a gyro plane.

JOHN MOSS: It operates somewhat like a plane and then somewhat like a helicopter.

- Pilot John Moss first thinking the aircraft was from another century.

JOHN MOSS: It brought me back to my childhood days of watching the Jetsons. It's very futuristic looking.

- It's a unique plane that's part of a six month pilot program for the Department as it looks to establish an air unit. Modesto police say the plane's been on about 20 missions in the two weeks it's been in the Central Valley. Its latest call-- last night as police search for a suspect seen running from a traffic stop.

JOHN MOSS: We can go, 10-34. You can break down the perimeter. Owl 5, thank you for coming back. Owl 5, the plane's call sign, has a price point that's giving the Department something to hoot and holler about, too.

- All the numbers we're getting so far is that it's been purchased and operational cost, it's about 10% of what a traditional helicopter would be. This aircraft is costing about $65 an hour to put in the air, which a traditional helicopter, there's anywhere from $750 all the way up to $1,500 an hour.

- A cheap price also taking Modesto PD to new heights compared to other departments in the country.

- There have been others, but are more simplified. They don't have the built-in clear thermal cameras that this aircraft does.

- A cost saving Eye in the Sky-- giving police an edge on something you can't put a price on-- public safety.

- We can cover a lot of ground and a lot of time for a fraction of the cost. We can search for prowlers and hopefully keep the city of Modesto safer.

- Well, if the gyro plane gets the green light, it would cost about $350,000. A big savings because a chopper would cost at least three million.