Etowah County sheriff's deputies taking to the air

Pilots take off in the new Etowah County Sheriff's Office helicopter. (

The Etowah County Sheriff's Department is training tactical flight officers.

The 16 hour training course is described as a cross between navigator and co-pilot strategies for the county's helicopter. It teaches participants the way the helicopter works and gets them familiar with the same roads they are used to patrolling on the ground.

Etowah County pilot Danny Fincher says, "It frees the pilot up so he can pay more attention to the aviation duties, he can pay attention to things that he needs to be looking at in flying the helicopter whereas before the pilot was doing it all."

The county already uses the helicopter about 5 to 6 hours each month, mainly for high speed chases and high-risk warrants.