Airborne Law Enforcement has been in existence almost since the inception of the first airplane. The industry as a whole is ever-evolving, with military and law enforcement operations concentrated on obtaining a better vantage point via aerial operations.
While the New York City Police Department claims to be the first airborne unit created in 1929, the actual creator of the first unit is highly contested. Initially, airplanes ruled the skies, but when helicopters became more prevalent law enforcement agencies began to realize the benefits of the ability to fly “low and slow” above their ground based units and operations. Initial airborne operations were rudimentary, often forcing the pilot to have printed maps of the area in the cockpit and acquiring the suspects visually rather than today’s high tech options.