Highway Patrol Troopers Gain Bird’s Eye View of South Dakota

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Getting a bird’s eye view can help authorities search for a missing person. The Civil Air Patrol flew on Monday to try to help find Serenity Dennard.

The South Dakota Highway Patrol also has a plane for cases like this.  A spokesperson for the South Dakota Department of Public Safety confirms it was not used in the search for Dennard. 

There’s a Highway Patrol vehicle you need to see. It’s not a car, but a Cessna T206. 

“It’s like driving a car or anything else you learn how to do,” Trooper Sarah Schumacher said. 

That may be true, but it took a lot of training for Schumacher to fly the plane. First, she spent 40 hours getting her private pilot’s license. 

“And then from there I got an instrument rating, which is about 40 more hours, a commercial license, which is about 200 to 250 flight hours, and then I got my certified flight instructor certification, instrument instructor, multi-engine instructor,” Schumacher said. 

Schumacher may be in the driver’s seat, but says there’s someone else in control. 

“It’s not about me.  It’s not my show.  It’s not my show.  It’s all about the tactical flight officer because they’re the ones who can see on that monitor what is going on,” Schumacher said. 

Trooper Lucas Sieve is a tactical flight officer. You’ll find him sitting in back of the plane and controlling a camera attached to the outside. 

“I worked the road, I’ve been in the Sioux Falls area, and then they were asking for volunteers and I was excited for the assignment,” Sieve said.

Sieve trained to use Forward Look Infrared, or FLIR. That’s what allows him to read heat signals on this screen. Sieve says a big part of that training is hands-on experience. 

“When I got up in the plane and started playing with it and operating it that’s when I realized, ‘Hey, I need to do this to get this,'” Sieve said. 

All of this training on the ground is crucial for Sieve and Schumacher when they’re in the air. 

“There are things we can do, for example, a missing child or a missing elderly person, where we might make the difference between them surviving and not surviving,” Schumacher said. 

We’re going to show you the plane in action. On Tuesday night’s Eye on KELOLAND, we’re giving you a front row seat as these troopers show us how their training and plane helps them enforce the speed limit and how that infrared technology can help them save lives. 

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