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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - June 25, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta THE IETHBRIDGE Mendav, June 25, 1973 Other things in the heavens By WARREN CAHAGATA Herald Staff Writer No marked patrol cars In sight, a good stretch of high- way, so you open it up, hop- ing" to get to Lethbridge as fast as possible. And then the flashing red light of the police inter- ceptor and a uniformed po- liceman flagging you over to the side of the road. You've become another vic- tim of the "eye in the the unofficial name given by the RCMP to its aircraft pa- trol. The Cessena 172, rented from Lethbridge Air Service, circles endlessly above a stretch of four-lane highway between Kipp and Lethbridge and 2.500 feet below, the un- suspecting motorist speeds blissfully onwards. His des- tination a roadside assign- ation with a speeding ticket. RCMP in Lethbridge have been using the sky patrol for about 13 months and during the daylight hours at least, it is much more efficient than patrol cars and radar. Const. Mark Dickinson sits In the back seat of the plane, behind civilian pilot Arvin Hansen. In his hand, a modified clipboard with three stopwatches attached to the top. A headset rests over one ear. keeping him in contact with police officers sitting pa- tiently in two marked police interceptors on the ground below. His eyefe are focussed on a speck of color moving east- bound along the concrete rib- bon below and the hand of the stopwatch sweeps on without feeling The front of the car crosses a yellow line painted on the road and the hand presses a lever stopping the sweep of the clock. Exactly one-quarter of a mile 11.2 seconds A glance at a prepared chart of times and mileages 80 miles per hour in a 05 zone. A voice floats from the clouds into the radio receiv- er of the interceptor below. ''Eastbound. inside lane, number two. black on v.-hite.'' A movement from the po- lice car, identifiable from the plane because it's the only car for miles with an orange triangle on the roof. The grounded c o nstable looks down the highway and flags down the second car coming towards him. in the Inside lane a white sedan with a black roof. The Government of Alber- ta has just made be- cause the driver of that car didn't have eyes in the top of his head. Const. Dickinson thinks the aircraft patrol is fairer to the motorist than radar because he takes the average speed over a quarter-mile. With radar, if you happen to let your foot slip and go 80 miles an hour for a tenth of a second, and during that RCMP aircraft patrol makes speeders wish for in the tops of their heads Clocking an offender Const. Mark Dickinson checks stop-watches Final check before takeoff Const. Dickinson and civilian pilot Arvin Hansen tenth ot a second, the old radar beam bounces off your fender that's the ball game, as they say on the sports cast. But this isn't sport, its real and the RCMP take their job seriously. After all, they may be preventing an acci- dent. In addition to catching all the nasty speeders, which is its main function, "the big patrol car in the sky" is also useful for spotting other traf- fic infractions. Errors that from a car would be impossible to spot like a fellow five miles from the interceptor making an improper turn. They also use the air pa- trol to track stolen cars and follow suspicious persons. Technology has replaced the horse that gave the Royal Mounted their name. On the segment of the high- way patrolled that day. air- craft zones were marked only on the eastbound side but that doesn't step Const. Dickinson from clocking westbound traffic. Mentally extrapolating the yellow lines through the me- dian and onto the westbound side, he clocks a car doing 85 miles an hour. He radios the interceptor and tells them of his discov- ery the aircraft slides into a turn and starts lo foUow the offending vehicle, di- recting the now-pursuing in- terceptor to its prey. The plane follows the car for about five miles and fin- ally the patrol car is in posi- tion to make the kill and a Baptist minister from An- chorage, Alaska, finds out that there are other things in the heavens besides God. Bulls eye tpeeder caught on divided highway west of the city ;