As Summer Winds Down, the Connecticut SWAT Challenge Heats Up
EAST GRANBY -- When the summer winds down, the competition heats up at the Connecticut SWAT Challenge.
This week, the annual three day long event has 34 tactical police teams from all over the country who are competing in events like the Sniper Challenge and Obstacle Course while also partaking in classroom activities. Click Here for the full story.
Eagle One visits Whitney School in Stratford, CT for Science Day, 2017
The Eagle One Search And Rescue community is sad to announce that Thomas H. Miller, a lifelong resident of Milford, died peacefully January 2, 2017, surrounded by his family. Tom enjoyed life and had many passions. His greatest passion in life was flying. Tom's love for flying began at an early age and grew into a successful career in aviation. He started his career as a pilot while working full-time as an attorney and joined what is now Gama Aviation in 1985, becoming Director of Operations in 1996.
Tom also volunteered his time and skills as a helicopter pilot for the Eagle One Search And Rescue helicopter and assisted in many rescue operations, including Hurricane Katrina. Tom was president of the Nelson D’Ancona Foundation, a non-profit foundation that raises funds to operate and maintain the Eagle One Search And Rescue helicopter. Tom was a generous man who was always willing to help others. His smile and good sense of humor would brighten up a room. Tom had many friends and will be missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.
Eagle One Participates in the 2016 CT SWAT Challenge
On August 23, 2016 aircrew from the Stratford Police Eagle 1 Police Helicopter supported the 2016 Connecticut SWAT Challenge. This annual event is a sort of tactical team Olympics, where the top SWAT teams in the country spend the week meeting and competing.
For the 12th year of the challenge, the top seven teams were engaged in a hostage rescue simulating real life scenarios that included the use of Eagle One.
"It's the closest thing they get to a real call out," said Lt. Jeremy Clark, the co-director of the Connecticut SWAT Challenge. "It's something that happens fast and it's the real world," Clark added.
This year the teams were transported from Simsbury to a residence in West Hartford by Eagle One, arriving at an expansive field by the house, their challenge began.
"The suspect has a hostage and imminent danger is about to happen and they have to act in this scenario very quickly," Clark said. West Hartford officer Shane McAvay said "it provides great training for some great operators from all over the country."
Trooper Rich Silcox, the team leader from the Indiana State Police said, "When we can all get together as law enforcement agencies and train together it makes us better."
This year, 35 teams attended the Connecticut SWAT Challenge which included, team events, physical challenges, and seminars.
Eagle 1 SWAT Training April 2016
Recently aircrews from the Stratford Police Eagle 1 Police Helicopter supported the Capital Region Chief’s of Police Association (CRCOPA) tactical teams as they trained to respond to a simulated terrorist attack and seizure of a public building. With generous support from the Chase family of West Hartford, Police officers and air crew were able to utilize a private helipad to stage the training, then fly to the target building a short distance away. It was a great safe day of anti-terrorism training for Municipal Police Officers in the region.
Eagle One team participates in the Connecticut SWAT Challenge
On August 19-21, 2014 the Eagle One team participated in the Connecticut SWAT Challenge led by West Hartford Police Officer Chris Chappell. The Eagle One Team was responsible for the familiarization and safety training of 300 police officers in law enforcement helicopter flight operations. The main events focused on officer insertion and officer casualty evacuation.
Lt Jeremy Clark, West Hartford ESU Commander and Director of the Connecticut SWAT Challenge described the event as follows: “Over 10 years ago, there was the continuous back room chatter in the regions SWAT community about why there wasn’t a SWAT competition and why teams didn’t gather for regional training on a large scale, using scoring and head to head formats to further the skill, team work and proficiency of SWAT teams from all over Connecticut. With that thought in mind, members of the West Hartford Police department SWAT team decided to make it a reality and from this, the Connecticut SWAT Challenge (CSC) was born.
Year one, 17 teams from 9 agencies came to the CSC and competed. There were no vendors, no sponsors, no lunches and no widespread support. But as the years went by, sponsors and vendors came aboard, teams increased to 3-40 a year, support grew from the community, the media and the entire SWAT world. We began to focus on extensive training with TCCC (Tactical Combat Casualty Care) classes, crowd control training, less lethal exposure, simunition scenario training and off course, focused physical and shooting courses.
From 2005-2014 we offered three to five days of training every year, with teams coming from as far away as California and individuals as far away as Brazil. Federal, State and local teams have all competed in our event. From the FBI, to the DEA, to BORTAC, to State Police agencies to nearly every SWAT team on the east coast have come to obtain the training here at the CSC. Live fire, head to head courses are our staple, performed in full call out gear with no “run and gun” mindset.
Our goal is crystal clear: it is to train the tactical officers who come in the most realistic, real world training that reflects all the scenarios we do face, and might face in protecting the communities we all work in. Most of this training has been possible thanks to the WHPD SWAT/ESU team and the volunteers who come to the event to help. We have had Green Beret’s, Navy SEALS, Delta Force Operators, Doctors, and nearly every imaginable expert in the field of tactics come and assist us in training.
With that goal in mind, we requested the assistance of Eagle One and its’ crew to help run an event in the CSC this year. With endless roles and abilities, helicopter/aerial operations are a vital area that all tactical and even regular uniformed officers need to be trained in. But in Connecticut and the entire country, there is a vacuum of training in this area and we decided that it needed to be addressed. So Eagle One teamed with the staff of the Connecticut SWAT Challenge and created a training event where over 300 police and tactical officers were familiarized with helicopter applications in the police world, as well as hands on training. To a man, the participants who received this training said it was the best and most appreciated training they received in 2014. We will continue to train as many officers as we can at the CSC, and Eagle One has been, and now will be a partner in that role hopefully for years to come. From all of us here at the CSC, I offer my deepest thanks and gratitude for the Eagle One team that brought us their knowledge and experience and better prepared us for the ever changing world where aerial operations will be so vital.” View the whole story here.
Eagle 1 Trains with K-9 Search and Rescue Team
This December the Eagle 1 Team conducted Search and Rescue training at Indian Wells State Park with the assistance of RSAR. Resources in Search and Rescue, Inc. (RSAR) was established in 2009. The team’s mission is to reunite lost or missing people with their families. Eagle 1 deployed RSAR team members and K-9’s via air to the state park where the K-9’s and Handlers located “victims” missing in the woods.
For more information about the Resources in Search and Rescue, Inc. (RSAR) click here
August 21, 2013
Brookfield Police, Fire, and EMS participated in an orientation and flight exercise with Eagle One. Captain John Puglisi of the Brookfield Police Department coordinated the event which utilized a landing zone behind the department's headquarters.
click here to see eagle one landing
Pictured below are members of the Brookfield Police and Fire Department along with the Department's K9 team that participated in the training along with Eagle One's Flight Crew; Chief Pilot Chris McNeil, Crew Chief Charlie Brady, Pilot in Command Tom O'Halloran, and Tactical Flight Officer Steve Palmer of the New Milford Police Department.
Eagle One Has Landed: New Milford Area Responders 'Meet' Helicopter
On May 28th 2013 Eagle One crewmembers Al Wilcoxson and Tom O’Halloran conducted Tactical Flight Officer training with the New Milford Police department. From left to right is Aviation Unit Commander Al Wilcoxson SPD, LT. Larry Ash NMPD, Officer Steve Palme NMPD, and Eagle One Pilot Tom O’Halloran.
A Non Profit Foundation, Volunteer Aircrew, Maintenance and Corporate Supporters Unite to Provide Police Air Support click here for complete information
Departments Submerge in Water Drills
Tuesday, 18 Aug 2009 Story by: Crystal Haynes Shelton (WTNH) -
The recent mid-air collision over New York's Hudson River is a somber reminder of how an ordinary day can change quickly. Everyday emergency crews prepare for days like that and today in Fairfield County responders converged on the Housatonic River for a special drill.
Awards ceremony for the October Coventry Find and Rescue
It was an exciting day by the water for a Shelton toddler; a perfect opportunity to practice the sign for "helicopter" as Fairfield Police "Eagle One" dropped divers into the Housatonic River for a mutual aid drill. Click to see more
Eagle One is law enforcement’s eye in the sky
Written by Bill Bittar Friday, April 24, 2009
Fairfield police operate Eagle One, but the chopper responds to calls throughout the region.
When a disabled 62-year-old military veteran and former hunter took a drive into the woods near his Coventry home to look at pheasants last fall, he somehow got lost, and his concerned family reported him missing. For two-and-a-half days, search parties on foot, in all terrain vehicles and aboard airplanes scoured the area without any luck. The victim weathered cold nights with no food or water.
Then Eagle One, the Fairfield Police Department’s helicopter, was called in.“I picked up a local police officer who knew the area, and we flew over a field and looked back into the woods, and found the victim,” said David Faile Jr., the pilot that day. “We took him right to Windham Hospital.”
It had taken Faile, his crew and the officer less than an hour to track down the missing man. Faile, a pilot of 48 years, is among the volunteers who fly Eagle One, a Huey helicopter built in 1968. Though the chopper is operated by the Fairfield Police Department, it stands ready to respond to emergency calls throughout the region and is housed in the Gamma hangar at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford. “It’s a real resource for the state of Connecticut, and really the Tri-State area,” said Fairfield Police Chief David Peck during a press conference inside the hangar on Monday morning.
Requests for Eagle One go through the Stratford Police Department, which checks on the availability of the helicopter and a crew and whether weather conditions are good to fly in. Lt. Dan Gombos is in charge of a police crew that includes Capt. Don Smith, and Officers Anthony Vaspasiano and Mark Fracassini.
The Old Saybrook Police Department was responsible for Eagle One until Fairfield took the reigns in the late ‘90s. Former Police Chief Joseph Sambrook and Officer James Petrino were instrumental in the town’s obtaining operational control of the helicopter, according to Peck. The Nelson-D’Ancona Foundation is responsible for the maintenance and up-keep of Eagle One.“There is no expense to the taxpayers,” Peck said. The foundation collects private donations to pay for insurance, maintenance and fuel.
Eagle One’s pilots and crew members include police officers and fire and emergency medical services personnel with prior and current military and civilian training experience. Volunteers with a variety of backgrounds are required for the helicopter’s operation.Crew members who had joined Faile on the Coventry search and rescue mission were Charlie Brady, Robert Hettrick and Chris McNeill.
Tom Miller, a pilot, is CEO and director of Flight Services Group Inc., at Sikorsky Airport and the Nelson-D’Ancona Foundation; Brady is vice president of the foundation; and McNeill holds the title of chief pilot. Faile lives in Fairfield and has been flying planes since he was 16. He is also a licensed aircraft mechanic who builds his own airplanes. A field trip to Sikorsky Airport sparked Faile’s passion for flying at an early age. “When I was a Cub Scout, we had a field trip to the airport here,” he recalled. “We got to walk over to the DC-3 at the old hangar across the field.” The Douglas DC-3 is a fixed-wing, propeller-driven passenger plane that made commercial air travel popular when it made its debut in 1936, according to Boeing.com. Jeffrey P. Pino, president of Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., is also a pilot for Eagle One, along with fellow volunteer pilot Alan Wilcoxson of Shelton, who is a Stratford police lieutenant. Other volunteers include, rescue technician Eric Diaz, a Manchester firefighter and paramedic; and Jeanette Eaton, a Bell Helicopter representative pilot.
The Coventry rescue was not the only high profile mission Eagle One was involved in. A crew also took it to Baton Rouge, La., to assist in the search and rescue efforts and transportation of cargo in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Eagle One can be used for surveillance and photography, counter drug missions, cold water rescues, and nighttime lighting of accident scenes. Peck recalled a time when Eagle One illuminated the early morning Bridgeport sky as city officers served search and seizure warrants.
Student Fundraising soars for cops' coptery
Genevieve Reilly, staff writer 04/27/2009
Contributed photo Students at Sherman School in Fairfield raised $1,350 for Eagle One....
FAIRFIELD -- Fundraising launched six years ago by fifth-graders at Sherman School has really taken off.
This year, the schoolchildren collected $1,350 for Eagle One, the Fairfield Police Department's search-and-rescue helicopter, which is housed at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford.
Eagle One is funded by the Nelson-D'Ancona Foundation through private and corporate sponsors and donations, and a crew of volunteers serves as pilots. "We used to do a unit on flight in the fifth grade," said teacher Ted Ostrowski. "I came across an article in the newspaper about the helicopter." He broached the idea of collecting money for Eagle One with fellow teachers."They said, 'Go for it,' " Ostrowski said, "and we more or less adopted the helicopter." In the past, Eagle One has "dropped in" for visits to the school to thank students for the donations. This year, four fifth-graders, representing each fifth-grade class at the school, made a trip to Sikorsky Airport to deliver their check. "That's a lot of money," said police spokesman Sgt. James Perez, who accompanied the children on the trip, "and they raised it all by themselves." Ostrowski said the students started collecting the donations the second week in March, and with the state of this year's economy, weren't sure what to expect. "After the first few days, I thought we might reach our goal of $1,000," Ostrowski said. "Then it slowed down, but toward the end of the month it picked up." The $1,350 is the most the students have raised, he said.
Eagle 1 volunteers cited for lofty ambitions
FAIRFIELD -- Don't tell anybody, but there are times when Sikorsky CEO Jeffrey Pino finds himself behind the controls of a Bell UH-IH helicopter, also known as a Huey. "I spent 17 years at Bell prior to coming to Sikorsky, so I know the helicopter really well," he said. Pino is one of six volunteers who pilot the Fairfield Police Department's Eagle 1 helicopter. "I just think it's a real valuable asset for the whole state." Pino and the other volunteer pilots were on hand Monday at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford so police officials could "showcase and focus on the volunteers who make this happen," according to Chief David Peck. "Without them, we couldn't do this. "The department acquired the helicopter in 1998, said Peck, and at that time, had an officer on its roster who was a helicopter pilot. That officer, James Petrino, has since left for a job with the New York State Police, but the aviation unit continues, thanks to pilots who give their time as well as donations from the community. Because the helicopter is a piece of police equipment, Peck said all the pilots have been made "special agents" of the department. Other members of the copter crew include police officers and firefighters from Fairfield, as well as from Stratford and Trumbull. Eagle 1 is deployed for surveillance, counter-drug missions, search-and-rescue operations, aerial command and control, nighttime lighting of accident scenes, assisting special teams, disaster relief, and community and educational events.
The helicopter also is available to public safety agencies in the tristate area, according to Peck, who added no money from his department's budget is spent on the helicopter. Eagle 1, a surplus Army helicopter, was first obtained in 1992 when the Nelson-D'Ancona Foundation was established to provide funding for an emergency service helicopter that could be used by any local or state agency at no cost. It was first assigned to the Old Saybrook Police Department before coming to Fairfield. "We send out appeals, we apply for grants," said David Faile, a local resident who serves as a pilot and treasurer for the foundation. "We rely totally on the support of the community, and if we save one person, it's worth it." For example, the hangar space is provided by Tom Miller, another pilot and the foundation's director and president. Miller is the CEO and director of operations for Flight Services Group at Sikorsky Airport. The Eagle 1 organization and its professionalism are " very impressive all the way around," Pino said. "Everything's by the book, and that's encouraging." Faile, a pilot since age 16, said his involvement is not only a way to spend his retirement from AT&T giving back to the community, but he gets the satisfaction of flying helicopters. "Nothing beats that," he said. And nothing beats the outcome of missions like the one last October when the crew was called to help search for a Coventry man who had been missing for two days. On board that day were Faile, Charlie Brady, Robert Hettrick and Chris McNeill. After an hour of searching, the man's car was located on the edge of a field and he was found, alive, on the vehicle's floor. "That's a great feeling," Faile said. "It's a thrill." Even if an Eagle 1 crew gets called to the hangar only to have the mission aborted before they get off the ground, Faile's OK with that. "We'd rather be here and be assembled and ready to go," he said. A member of the group for about eight months now, Pino said so far he's just participated in training and "check out" flights. "No hard-core rescues yet," he said.
Eagle 1 Finds Missing Coventry Man, Wednesday, October 8th 2008
A call from Fairfield Pd Lt Gombus at 1030 AM for a request for support from Coventry, CT. A man has been missing for two days and they need support for an air search. Eagle one launched at 1145 from Sikorsky Memorial Airport with four Eagle One pilots and crew members (Charlie Brady, David Faile, Robert Hettrick, and Chris McNeill). They arrived on scene at Coventry at 1255. They coordinated with Coventry Police Department to pick up Sergeant Tony Ochtera at a local school athletic field for assistance in the areas that should be searched. Eagle one conducted a search pattern in the area that the missing person was known to frequent. This consisted of heavily wooded areas and farm fields. After almost an hour of searching, the missing person's car was located at the edge of a field under trees. Eagle One landed in a recently harvested field to check the vehicle. When car was checked individual was found on the floor in the back seat unable to move but conscious. The car was located in an area not easily accessible by rescue equipment so, it was decided that Eagle One should transport the victim to the Windham hospital.
The four Eagle One crew members plus the Coventry officer fashioned a stretcher from a blanket and carried the victim to Eagle One. The middle seats were removed from Eagle One by Charlie Brady and the victim was placed on the floor of the helicopter. Eagle One departed the field for the Windham Hospital helicopter landing pad. Upon landing at Windham Hospital, hospital paramedics removed the victim to the Emergency Room.
Eagle One then departed the Hospital for Windham Airport and returned to Sikorsky Memorial Airport. Successful Mission!
Coventry police make donation to Eagle 1,
Journal Inquirer Staff, Friday, December 12, 2008
On Oct. 6, Carlton “Skip” Coffined, 62, left his home in his vehicle and was reported missing. After searching for him for two days, Coventry police requested the assistance of Eagle 1.
After about 20 minutes of searching, the helicopter crew located the missing man’s vehicle in a remote wooded area. Scofield was in failing health and was taken by helicopter to Windham Memorial Hospital, where he was treated for a number of ailments. He has since recovered, police said.
The Eagle 1 crew members who participated in the rescue are special officers Charles Brady, David Faile, Robert Herrick, and Chris McNeil.
In addition to the helicopter, a state police plane searched for Scofield, as did workers from the state Department of Environmental Protection who searched the woods on all-terrain vehicles.
Eagle 1 orientates the Norfolk Ambulance Explorers
Eagle 1 orientates the Norfolk Ambulance Explorers with the Eagle 1 Police Search and rescue program.(Stephanie Thibault MRT, Logan Mitchell, Paul Day MRT, Elyse O'Brien MRT, Stephen Whelan US Army MP Reservist, MRT; Tony Peterson, Matt Bell MRT)