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State trooper patrols the roads from above

Melissa Topey • Jan 15, 2013 at 1:19 PM

I have to say it is a great place to work.

“I love my job,” Dail said.

Dail is with the aviation division of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Considering Dail has had his eyes on the sky his entire life, it is a perfect match.

Dail started to fly in 1990 when he was a young, 18-year-old man. Eventually he earned a degree in aeronautical science from Florida’s Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

I jumped into the cockpit with Dail on Wednesday to track down some speeders on the turnpike. This is traffic enforcement by air.

I understand Dail’s passion for flying. I have gone through ground school and have a few hours of flight time logged. I jump at any opportunity to go up, even as a passenger.

Dail and I pre-flighted the Highway State Patrol’s Skylane Cessna 182, checking out every part of the plane as well as the fuel, oil and even the tires (we stopped short of kicking them.)

Inside the plane Dail let me run down the checklist.

Master Switch on. Fuel pumps on.

We soon were lifting off the runway at the Sandusky County Regional Airport.

See more photos from this flight HERE and watch a video of the flight in the player to the right

“The whole purpose of a traffic stop is to bring awareness of, and teach about, the violation,” Dail said. “We just want to get folks to drive safely and get them to where they are going.”

The next time you see a plane in the air you might want to slow down.

In the air Dail taught me how to use a stop watch to clock the speed of the car below.

Dail is able to fly a pattern, use two stop watches, clock speeders and give directions to troopers on the ground. My head was spinning, but for Dail it is routine.

This is how enforcement from the air works.

There are white lines along certain stretches of roads. They are there for the air patrol.

We watched for a car that appeared to be speeding. When the vehicle reached the first line, we started the stop watch. When the vehicle reached the second line, we click it again. That’s the first speed reading.

The stop watches are tested before and after each shift to make sure they are operating correctly.

When the car reaches a third line, the stop watch is clicked again for a second speed reading.

Dail and I worked with troopers Matt MaJoy and Bryan Holden of the Milan post. They were ready in cruisers on the ground just outside of the speed zone.

Dail radioed them when he spotted a possible speeder.

“I am working one now,” Dail said.

Once Dail starts to monitor a car’s speed he can’t lose the car from his sight. He gives the description and location of the vehicle as it approaches the troopers on the ground.

“You have the correct vehicle.” he tells them as they pull behind the speeder.

Soon cruiser lights flip on.

Dail can only stop tracking the vehicle when the trooper on the ground stops the car.

“I have to be able to testify to that,” Dail said.

If he loses sight, that vehicle just got a free pass.

Dail is completely objective from the air, there is no way to know who the driver is.

I matched Dail’s readings most of the time, though one time my stop watch had an error when I messed up hitting the buttons.

“I could so do this job,” I said as Dail grinned at me.

We clocked about 20 vehicles and cited eight drivers for speeding in about a two-hour time period — a slow day.

The troopers have been known to ticket close to 50 vehicles during the same time frame, especially during the holidays when roads are busy.

The tickets were issued based on Dail’s readings, not mine. If you were given a speeding ticket on the turnpike near the Milan post of the Highway Patrol blame Dail, not me.

One of those ticketed was a school bus.

“School bus. Left lane up ahead. Been in the left lane the entire time,” Dail calls out.

I see it.

We clock it at 80 mph.

“I do not know if that is a real school bus or if it is converted, but can you imagine if that is a school bus and it is speeding,” Dail said.

Later we find out from Holden it was a school bus from the Hawken School, a private school near Cleveland, with three adults (no children) on it.

Holden called the school Thursday to leave a message with the transportation director about the stop and to ask why a school bus was going 80 on the turnpike.

He had yet to receive a return call as of 3 p.m. on Thursday.

Dail said a position in Ohio State Highway Patrol’s aviation unit does not come open often.

“Usually someone retires,” Dail said.

Dail is an amazing pilot and he loves being a trooper, so I hope he continues to work for a long time.

But it is a great job I’d love to have. I just may have to go back to school.

Do you love your job, read about what Confucius has to say about it HERE

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