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Pilot's 'Joyride' Under Scrutiny In Orange County

Hour-Long Flight With Female Deputy Questioned

At a time when many municipalities are grounding their law enforcement helicopter assets due to the recession, it's obviously bad form for a sheriff's department pilot to go flying with a female friend in a $1,000/hour Eurocopter AS 350 (similar aircraft pictured). But that's what is said to have happened in Orange County, California. Officials are not amused, especially since this would not be the first time it's happened.

The Orange County Register reports that on November 10, pilot and Sergeant Han O took off for a one-hour flight about 1030 PST. But along for the ride was Deputy Sherri Demaio, whose assigned to central court, and not a trained observer. The incident is being called a "ride-along," but such arrangements are supposed to be approved in advance by the department.

The sheriff's office has started an investigation after an anonymous tip was sent to some members of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. The Register reports previous officials sent one flight crew to retrieve a lost purse, and allegedly used other flights for “amorous trysts” during the tenure of former Sheriff Michael Carona, who resigned in 2008 and spent 66 months in prison after a conviction on a witness tampering charge.

FMI: http://egov.ocgov.com/ocgov/Sheriff-Coroner%20-%20Sandra%20Hutchens

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