Sharing their toy

By: Daniel Gotera Email
By: Daniel Gotera Email

BRYAN COUNTY, Okla. -- An old Army helicopter is getting another lease on life thanks to authorities in Bryan County and some volunteers. Now there's word the aircraft could benefit other agencies in need.

Bryan County Sheriff's deputies say there are very few downsides to having a helicopter, and from personal experience, the view from above for potential partnerships looks good.

The Bryan County Sheriff's Helicopter has a brand new paint job thanks to the efforts of one local business.

"I talked with my guys and we decided we'd work together on it and jumped on it and actually finished the job in four and half days from start to finish,” said Dunegan Collision owner Jeremy Dunegan.

Dunegan and his team at Dunegan Collision agreed to repaint the aircraft free of charge as a token of appreciation to a group he says does a lot for the county.

"It lets the people of Bryan County know that we care about them, and the helicopter is a good thing and it’s something you could use and it’s something we can help with in Bryan County."

But it wasn't easy, as the team at Dunegan had to work over ten coats of paint and meet FAA regulations when fixing an aircraft.

"An aircraft is not so easy because you have a lot of rivets and its tedious work as far as the prep work is concerned."

Sheriff’s officials say that repainting an aircraft like this could run up to $15,000 across the state. It’s no wonder why they're so appreciative of the work of Dunegan Collision.

"Those guys did it out of the kindness of their business, all we needed to supply was the paint and they did the rest," said Bryan County Captain Steve Pelto.

But the new paint job is not the only good news associated with the helicopter.

As we took a ride in the new law enforcement tool, Captain Pelto explained the sheriff's office is working with other agencies.

Someday soon, you might see this bird flying over Grayson, Fannin, and Lamar counties.

"OHP has an aircraft, Texas DPS has one, but these things are normally 2 to 3 hours away, we can be up in a matter of minutes and be on site quickly."

That promptness comes in handy when dealing with missing people and escapees.

"They’ll run all day long and when they get that helicopter in the air, they stop and they're caught."

Sheriff's deputies say they hope to come to an agreement with different agencies sometime this year.


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