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LR police unloading last of its helicopters in sale held online

by William Sanders | July 23, 2020 at 3:08 a.m.

The Little Rock Police Department is selling the last helicopter in its now defunct helicopter program, according to spokesman Lt. Casey Clark.

The bidding officially ended Tuesday on the 1972 Bell OH-58A helicopter, with the total price, including taxes and other fees, topping $250,000 on the bidding website GovDeals.

"We closed our helicopter program a couple of years ago now, so I think they're just trying to get rid of stuff," Clark said.

Now, with the bidding ended, the final sale will be facilitated by the website.

Initially "the posting has to stay up for 30 days, and then it's like a bid process kind of like an eBay of sorts," Clark said.

"Then at the end of the auction, whoever the highest bidder is, you get together and the [GovDeals] site facilitates a transfer of funds and the paperwork and transportation and all that stuff."

The department had three helicopters at one point in the mid-2000s, repurposed from military use. The program was fully staffed and had pilots for all three shifts, Clark said.

They "were demo-ed military property," he said. "Those were training helicopters that they trained army helicopter pilots to fly on."

In the Police Department program, the copters flew at least two missions a month, and were used for special events "or anytime we knew we were going to have some kind of major event," Clark said.

However, one copter was sold to outfit one that eventually crashed in August 2018. The crash was caused by a gust of wind that hit the aircraft as it hovered over a flatbed trailer during training. The pilot suffered minor injuries.

That helicopter had to be given back to the federal government because it was part of a separate government program that did not allow departments to keep the helicopters permanently.

"When that one crashed it had to go back through the state, because I think there was a question with insurance," Clark said. "I think the federal government ended up taking it back."

The helicopter for sale Tuesday has not flown since December 2018. It had a total of 6,358.6 flight hours, counting its use by the Police Department and before that the military.

Despite not flying for nearly two years, it is serviceable and able to fly, Clark said.

"That was the last one that we actually had serviceable that could still fly," Clark said. Department officials "just finally said we're getting out of the helicopter business."

Before the new owner can fly the helicopter, it must be re-registered and police decals must be removed, according to the sale page.


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