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Why do they keep flying that police helicopter over my neighborhood?

David Reynolds

Seeing lots of helicopters lately?

No surprise, considering that both the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office and the Wilmington Police Department have their own. Some days, it looks like O.J. Simpson’s in town, doesn’t it? Remember? The slo-mo helicopter chase?

[UPDATE: The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office has discontinued using its helicopter and joined the regional helicopter team.)

But, back to your question … we’re scratching our heads on that one. We’re assuming that it’s one of the law enforcement birds you’re seeing. Why they’re choosing to hover over your particular neighborhood is a mystery, at least to us.

We did manage to track down pictures of the two agency’s choppers. Maybe this will help you figure out whose helicopter it is.

New Hanover County Sheriff's Office helicopter

New Hanover County Sheriff's Office helicopter

Wilmington Police Department helicopter

Wilmington Police Department helicopter

Local law enforcement officials say they use helicopters to locate suspects and missing people.

The Wilmington Police Department SABLE Southeastern Airborne Law Enforcement helicopter supports officers on the ground to locate suspects and find missing people. If residents see a helicopter hovering in their neighborhood, it is typically involved in a search, said Lt. George Perkins.

The helicopter uses infrared, so people won’t see a spotlight. Since officers in the helicopter can spot things from a long way off, the search area isn’t always directly below where the helicopter is hovering, Perkins said. It wouldn’t be far.

The helicopter was donated to WPD two years ago from the military. The helicopter’s maintenance and operations costs are funded by drug seizure revenue.

The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office started its helicopter program in July 2008. Sheriff Air One flies on a changing schedule of patrols and also when called out in specific cases. The helicopter may respond to any call involving more than one deputy, said Office Spokesman Charles Smith. Calls could be fights, robberies, missing people or assisting a search in a water rescue. If the search involves a case that’s a danger to the public, Smith said the office would notify local media. Drug seizure money also funds all of Sheriff Air One’s operations.

If it’s not one of those helicopters, well … is it a black helicopter? If so, you might want to start constructing a tin foil hat.

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8 Responses to “ Why do they keep flying that police helicopter over my neighborhood?”

  1. On January 21, 2010 at 8:10 pm Mike R wrote:

    I hear and see these things all the time also…

    I guess hovering noisy helicopters will be the way of the future for the city of Wilmington…

  2. On January 24, 2010 at 1:30 am B Williams wrote:

    I hate that helicoptor! I know what you are saying!

  3. On January 28, 2010 at 12:40 am Bob wrote:

    These birds cost several thousand dollars per year to operate. With both the city & county being relatively small jurisdictions, why not just share their air assets and operate them jointly? Heck, for that matter, do what Jacksonville, FL, Columbus GA, Las Vegas, NV and other cities have done: merge the Police and Sheriff into one department. The name “Wilmington-New Hanover Metro PD” has a nice ring to it, I think.

  4. On October 22, 2010 at 9:14 am Wade Griffis, Wilmington, N.C. wrote:

    Give me a break! The helicopter usually flies above 1000 feet. They are not very noisey. My dog farting makes more noise.

    If they are hovering over your neighborhood, it is because something bad is going on.

    Get a life, people!

    Turn up the volume of, ” Marty Povich” and get on with your fantasy life.

  5. On May 19, 2011 at 11:00 pm Indepenent wrote:

    I hear this stinking chopper hovering every night. I’m sick of it and what a waste of money. So we are to believe that if a fight breaks out and more than one cop is dispatched the chopper gets the call as well! Unbelievable! This town is getting too big for it’s britches and it’s debts are too!

  6. On January 24, 2012 at 9:28 pm Wilmington wrote:

    I’m listening to them over my house right now,and that’s with TV on! My neighbors and myself have ALWAYS wondered why they seem to always hover over our neighborhood/area of Wilmington. Is it turning into a bad area that they have to have helicopters go over EVERY night!?!? Our other thought was it’s a ‘practice area’ for them? After several years of this, we’re just scratching our heads wondering why this area…every night? We watched one the other night get WELL below normal level..so much that me, my son & neighbor waved at them. Would be nice to get a factual answer on this question!!!

  7. On March 5, 2014 at 2:07 pm matt becker wrote:

    One cannot help but wonder how much/many of these police helicopter harassment incidents are really a cover for whats called “blockbusting”, that is creating such a bad atmosphere in a area, it becomes undesireable to live there…thus driving down real estate prices; favorable to shady developers who want to get the land CHEAP! As they say “follow the money” I believe this is happening to an area of Phoenix in which I live, called Sunnyslope. Its a poor area, sanwhiched between two rich areas, and developers no doubt want the land. At the very least, it is interesting how the police helicopters (“ghetto birds”) play into or ‘dovetail’ into developrs scams.

  8. On September 11, 2014 at 12:13 pm Katie wrote:

    So good to hear someone else is at least concerned about this. I live in Tulsa OK. Police helicopters are dive bombing our neighborhood for 4 years now. A private college just up the road wants our neighborhood for their own development. I just don’t know what to do about them. We own our land here in Oklahoma to infinity. A aviators license has public trust for use of our airways. They are supposed to do no harm. If they are harassing you or doing harm to you document the harm and times and notify the FAA. You should consider going after the pilot’s license instead of dealing with the police. They will likely retaliate, But what are they going to do dive bomb you home. They are already doing that. There are also limits on how low they can fly etc. etc.

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