US Army, May 23, 2020 - WIESBADEN, Germany by Nadine Bower - Once a day, the Wiesbaden Army Airfield gets an unusual visitor. A blue and white helicopter can be seen hovering over different areas of Clay Kaserne for a few minutes, before flying away again.
The helicopter, a Eurocopter EC-145, belongs to the Hessen State police and is stationed at Egelsbach. The Westhessen police presidium and U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden have a mutual agreement that says that the Polizei helps protect the installations that belong to the garrison.
Members of the military police even do joint patrols with German Polizei officers during Halloween, the German-American Friendship Festival and during German festivals such as the Wiesbaden Christmas Market.
“The USAG Wiesbaden Directorate of Emergency Services has a great cooperation with the German Polizei, the Fire Department and the Emergency Medical Services. But we are always striving to find new ways to work closely together as partners,” said Lt. Colonel Edwin Escobar, USAG Wiesbaden Directorate of Emergency Services Director.
Deputy director and pilot of the Polizeifliegerstaffel Hessen, Klaus Boida, explained the use of the helicopter as a supporting tool in their mission to conduct “Objektschutz” (object protection). “’Objektschutz’ from above means that we are looking at a location in order to see changes that could not be seen from the ground. For example, when the helicopter crew sees a car parked at a location where it has not been parked before, we notify our ground patrols to check it out.”
The airfield in Erbenheim is not the only location that the police helicopter visits, Boida said. “We fly over the airfield, especially Newman Village, Hainerberg and the housing areas, but we also do the same over the nuclear power plant at Biblis,” he said.
Most modern technology
The helicopter is equipped with the most modern technology, including a forward-looking infrared camera that senses infrared radiation. “The camera compares the temperature of a body with the temperature of the body’s surroundings,” explained Boida. This technology is helpful when the crew is looking for a missing person, especially during the cold days of winter when time is of vital importance. Last year, the crew was able to find over 50 missing persons.
The camera also helps in observing and analyzing crime scenes or measure marks on the ground caused by accidents on the Autobahn. However, if the helicopter is too loud for an observation, a fixed wing aircraft can be used as well, which is also stationed in Egelsbach.
The police helicopter also helps during the preparation of the annual German-American Friendship Fest on Hainerberg, hosted by the garrison, Boida said. “The pictures of the fest grounds can be used for threat assessment or to see how many people are attending the fest.”
Drones can be used for threat assessment too. However, Boida said he can see their use in the future, but “not quite yet.” Even though they are a lot quieter, drones cannot transport people, he explained.
Transportation flights are another thing that the police helicopter can do. “Sometimes, we fly the Hessen Minister President or another person with special protection status.”
However, Boida and his crew are aware that the noise of the helicopter can seem disturbing to some neighboring communities next to the airfield. After all, it is one additional helicopter hovering over the airfield for several minutes every day. “We only fly there when we have to do our job or when we have to pick somebody up. We don’t go there for training,” he said. The crew trains at Mainz-Finthen and other locations, because they want to “distribute our noise equally,” Boida added with a chuckle.