Palm Bay Police to Expand Paraglider Team
The Palm Bay Florida Police Department has announced plans to expand its four-man Search Operations Aerial Response (SOAR) paraglider team to include up to two more officers. Team members have used foot-launched powered paragliders and a two-place powered parachute to do things you can’t do with a patrol car during the year long trial period, according to Palm Bay Deputy Police Chief Doug Muldoon. They want more officers involved.
The team has been evaluating powered paragliders on loan from Parajet including a Volution Compact and a Volution Macro. Parajet designed the two paramotors specifically for the Palm Bay Police Department and has provided the units at no cost to the agency during the evaluation period. The craft are equipped with electric start for easy restarting in flight. Paramania supplied the team with its next-generation Revo 2 Reflex wings. These are said to be easier for the pilot to do a forward launch in no wind conditions, and they provide a trim setting for superslow flights and the option for short landings.
These gliders were also supplied at no cost during the evaluation period. The two-place powered parachute being used by the SOAR Unit is a Powrachute Pegasus powered by a Rotax 582 engine. It was supplied at no cost to the city as a grant from the National Institute of Justice. Each pilot has an FAA sports pilot certificate and at least 40 hours of flight time.
The police say the paragliders have been used in over 40 missions within the 100-square-mile area of dense city and brush. They can search for missing persons; the paragliders help police provide surveillance and reconnaissance, locating stolen property and photographing crime scenes. The paragliders can be flown much lower and slower than conventional aircraft, making it possible to see details that would otherwise be missed. The cost to operate is estimated at $15 to $20 per hour which is much lower than $500 per hourfor a helicopter. Police believe the visible presence of the paragliders on patrol may help to reduce crimes such as residential burglary.