Retired pilot looks back on history of KCPD Helicopter Unit

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Using helicopters to follow suspects in high-speed chases in pretty common these days, but did you know those eyes in the skies first took off right here in Kansas City?

Retired Capt. Jack Brady started the Kansas City Police Department Helicopter Unit back in 1968, making the city one of the first places in the nation to have airborne patrol.

The original choppers were surplus from the military: repurposed Vietnam-era machines. The department continued to use those until 2012, when they purchased three new MD 500Es with funds from the Public Safety Sales Tax.

Now, at 88, Brady came back to where it all started to see how far his idea has come. In the beginning, people didn’t believe it was achievable: “Told me flat out it wasn’t going to work; that I was wasting my time,” Brady recalled.

On Monday, he took flight in one of the department’s new choppers.

Brady is also credited for founding the Airborne Law Enforcement Association, which is now an international organization. In 2013, he was honored for his long-time service.

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