The Liberty Gazette
April 29, 2008
April 29, 2008
The View From Up Here
By Mike Ely and Linda Street Ely
Linda: Daisetta Police Chief, Les Hulsey, is a partner with long-time pilot, Jamie Capps, in AirOne, which operates a 1998 Robinson R44 helicopter. Hulsey learned to fly at Helicopter Services at Hooks Airport in Tomball about three years ago, but he is no new-comer to aviation. The former U.S. Army Sergeant spent many hours aboard military helicopters as a gunner, flying daily re-supply missions over the Cambodia-Laos border in 1972-73. On the back of his neck is a graphic display of the story of when his chopper was shot down. He and four comrades spent three days running from the enemy near the banks of the river, and hiding in the forest, until they were picked up by U.S. forces and returned to their base in Thailand. “They teach them to roll the helicopter over so we’re less likely to be cut up by the blades, so we rolled over into the trees and all got out.” He says it so matter-of-factly.
The adrenaline rush would be hard to match, but eventually Chief Hulsey became a Houston firefighter, where he would repel from a helicopter on rescue missions, and after retirement, went to work for the Harris County Sheriff department. His work in crime prevention included a few years running Rice University’s rape defense program, one of his most personally rewarding jobs. But even in this life of service to others, protecting, defending, and helping people in need, the thrill of flying kept calling. The very thought of it spreads his thick goatee to make room for a contagious smile. “Back when I was a gunner, I took flying for granted. After I left the Army I really missed it.”
When federal funds became available for small communities like Daisetta to afford more police, Les Hulsey applied for the job.
Have his flying skills come in handy on the job yet? “We helped search for three escaped prisoners and we’ve caught some poachers who killed a gator in the wetlands,” he answers.
He’s working on a commercial helicopter certificate, and meanwhile, rides with partner, Jamie Capps, who is permitted for pipeline patrol, tour and sight-seeing operations, Medevac, animal damage control and game capture, and other special operations.
Mike was working the day of this interview, so I was on my own for this assignment. Hulsey and Capps picked me up at the Liberty Airport and we skimmed the tree tops of Liberty and Hardin Counties over to the Kountze Airport where they keep the helicopter. After my interview with the Chief, Jamie Capps offered me a ride in the R44. Apparently Chief Hulsey mentioned something about me liking aerobatics because once I had the headset on, Jamie said slyly, “I hear you’d like a demonstration of what this helicopter can do.” Hoo-boy, what a ride! That young man can really handle a helicopter.
Mike: Drats, I missed out…maybe next time. AirOne is donating a 30-minute air tour for the silent auction at the upcoming Benefit Fly-In for baby Hope Neault, May 31st. See you there!
Mike and Linda can be reached at Texasavi8r@aol.com.