Our Organization

​​​The Aviation Unit
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Aviation Unit was formed in 1971 through a federal Law Enforcement Assistance Administration grant program. The departm​ent purchased a new Bell 47G5 helicopter and initially trained 3 Officers, adding 3 more Officers within the first three months of operation. The unit was staffed 7 days a week, and covered 20 out of 24 hours a day.

Aviation Unit Supervisor
Sergeant Greg Varnum
Phone:   704.359.4623
Email:    Craig.Varnum@cmpd.org  

​If the police helicopter is orbiting near you it is most likely on a call for service. Be an alert witness and call 911 if you are concerned or have information to provide.

Photo of police helicopter hanger
​​Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police's patrol helicopters, Bell 407's.
​​The Bell Jet Ranger was upgraded with a thermal camera and flew more than 13,800 hours when it was replaced with a Bell 407 in 1997. The unit acquired a second Bell 407 in 2000 with both now being the primary patrol units. These helicopters have more advanced crime fighting features and capacities which include: Thermal cameras, moving map systems, search lights, microwave downlinks, Lo-Jack tracking, night vision operation provisions and ability to insert and extract tactical and rescue personnel for various missions.

The aviation unit's primary mission can best be described as providing aerial support to the Officers of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department through the use of time proven methods and state-of -the-art technology.

Photo of police helicopter
​​​The​ presence of the helicopter on a scene in most cases 1) pins down the suspect and 2) the psychological effect of the helicopter reduces the chances of the suspect resisting arrest or fighting with the officer on the ground. These two factors have been proven to increase officer safety dramatically.
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