The Marion County Sheriff’s Office Aviation Unit was established in 1974 with the purchase of three Bell 47G surplus helicopters. Since then, the Aviation Unit has grown into a multi-mission unit consisting of three Bell OH-58 surplus helicopters and one Bell 407 helicopter.
The three OH-58 helicopters are primarily utilized for training and law enforcement missions such as searching for wanted suspect(s), lost person(s) and surveillance. The Bell 407 is a multi-mission helicopter that is capable of various missions such as firefighting, search and rescue (hoist), tactical insertions (SWAT), water insertions (Dive Team), and law enforcement missions.
Currently the helicopters are equipped with FLIR 380HDC camera systems which provide advanced daytime and infrared capabilities, Churchill Navigation mapping systems for situational awareness and map overlay features, and Trakkabeam searchlights.
The Aviation Unit is located at the Ocala International Airport works closely with other local and state agencies to provide 24/7 coverage for the above mentioned missions. The Aviation Unit consists of six full time crew-members and five part time crew-members who are all certified Law Enforcement Officers as well as one full time maintenance technician.