EAA863 was excited to have Officer Nathan Dungan with the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) out to M54. Ofc. Dungan flew a Bell OH-58A helicopter to Lebanon and shared his personal aviation journey and presented on Law Enforcement in Aviation.
The EAA is special to Ofc. Dungan as he got his first flight in a small airplane at age 12 at a Young Eagles flight. Ofc. Dungan said he was hooked on aviation ever since and wanted to pursue a pilot’s license after that flight. It should come as no surprise that he now is co-owner of a small airplane, a Citabria. Ofc. Dungan joined the National Guard at 18 and served in an artillery capacity initially. After he got out of the National Guard, Ofc. Dungan joined Metro Nashville Police and worked the patrol and traffic divisions before moving into the aviation unit.
Ofc. Dungan’s journey to the flight deck was not immediate. Ofc. Dungan would become a Warrant Officer in the National Guard flying Blackhawks before flying for Metro. “The training took a year and a half” said Ofc. Dungan as he recalled his time training in the US Army National Guard. Ofc. Dungan said the Army does a great job training its pilots and condenses years of learning into a smaller span of time. The benefits of flying professionally in two capacities are many. “I get double the training and can stay current” comments Ofc. Dungan as he answered questions from EAA863 members.
What is it like to fly in Law Enforcement?
Ofc. Dungan said that flying in law enforcement is fun and intense. The crews are setup with two people, both pilots, and that one operates the aircraft and handles the aviation radios, while the other operates the police radios and observes police activities on the ground. Both practice good Crew Resource Management (CRM) to ensure safe operation at all times and both function to lookout for anything unsafe in the aircraft; both in the air and on the ground.
MNPD has six aircraft. Four Bell OH58A helicopters that they obtained from the Army Surplus program and two McDonnell Douglas (MD) 500E which were purchased by the police department. Flying both have its differences and Ofc. Dungan described the Bell OH58A as having controls that need constant light adjustment and the 500E’s as setting the controls and the input staying there. Both are fun to fly and great aircraft.
With six aircraft, good fleet management and preventative maintenance are a must. Ofc. Dungan said that MNPD does a good job keeping the aircraft in top mechanical condition and in a mission ready status.
What is a typical mission for police flying?
Ofc. Dungan said that their missions range from callouts to observations and over-watch, special events, and community engagement. Callous for the police helicopter include searching for robbery and shooting suspects, stolen vehicle recoveries, police pursuits, and missing and lost person recoveries. MNPD’s aviation unit handles over 2000 callouts annually which results in a lot of flying. Staffing for such a large volume of callouts is handled by just six officers working in two officer shifts. Ofc. Dungan said they are always considering additional police officer aviators and that the skillset for both law enforcement and aviation is very specialized and certainly in demand. “You need to be a good police officer to be a good police aviator,” described Ofc. Dungan. “You have to know and expect criminal behavior and understand where things are on the ground in relation to the air.” Indeed, this can be a challenging environment to operate in and CRM is a must. Ofc. Dungan loves what he does and enjoys the flying and interacting with the community.
The members of EAA863, Lebanon Airport, and Direct Flight Solutions would like to thank Ofc. Dungan for his service to his country flying Blackhawks in the National Guard and his service to the City of Nashville as a police officer and pilot. EAA863 would especially like to thank MNPD for coming out to our chapter meeting and allowing Ofc. Dungan to bring the helicopter. This was a great meeting and an inspiration to our aspiring future aviators.
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