During a recent meeting, the Cottonwood Arizona Board of Supervisors approved Guidance Helicopter School’s donation of a Robinson R44 Raven to the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office.
The approval was the final step in a months-long process during which Sheriff Steve Waugh and John Stonecipher, President and CEO of Guidance Helicopter School, have worked tirelessly on transferring the aircraft, based at the Prescott airport, to the YCSO.
The helicopter, valued at $180,000, requires a complete overhaul, but it is expected to begin service within 4 months. Even with the cost of the overhaul, the sheriff’s office is saving more than half the cost of a new aircraft. According to the YCSO, funds for the overhaul has come from a Public Safety Stabilization Program grant and drug seizures.
Once the overhaul is complete, the 4-seat helicopter will be put into service conducting high altitude rescue operations. It will be primarily operated as a backup for the Ranger, already in operation by the Department of Safety, when time or money dictate.
Under the agreement established with the county, Guidance will provide certified pilots for the YCSO who will provide any additional personnel.
This is an exciting addition to this department that will certainly expand their abilities. Additionally, the Robinson R44 Raven-a specially-equipped, piston helicopter-will likely save the department a significant amount of money on operations that don’t require the larger, more expensive Ranger that has previously been their only option. As time progresses, YCSO personnel will most likely undertake flight training at Guidance, further solidifying the relationship between the two organizations.