Sheriff Takes Family on Raven Trip to Burning Man

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Who said Burning Man is not a rave? The Sheriff of Washoe County took his wife and kid on a joyride official police business trip to Burning Man in the company chopper. The name of the military grade, electronically souped up aerial enforcer? RAVEN.

Anjeanette Damon at the Reno Gazette-Journal has the scoop:

Washoe County Sheriff Chuck Allen hitched a ride on a preplanned RAVEN helicopter flight to Burning Man last year, and brought along his wife and adult son.

Allen said he had to attend a multi-agency meeting at the annual arts celebration in the Black Rock Desert 110 miles north of Reno on Sept. 5 and didn’t want to make the two-hour drive that often ends in a traffic jam. So, Allen said he asked the department’s chief pilot if he could jump on the flight planned for that day.

“Yes, I did include my wife and son,” Allen told the Reno Gazette-Journal on Thursday. “I can do that as sheriff.”

“I checked to make sure I wasn’t breaking any of my own policies,” he added.

The policy that governs the sheriff’s office helicopter program does not specifically address civilian ride-alongs. It has a section, however, that limits “non-RAVEN affiliated personnel” who are authorized to ride in the helicopter.

“Police, fire, REMSA, (Search and Rescue), county, city, state, military and federal employees actively involved in public safety missions may be carried on RAVEN aircraft in accordance with public law,” the policy reads.

The sheriff’s office Regional Aviation Enforcement Unit was formed in 1996, when the department obtained four helicopters through the U.S. Department of Defense’s surplus program. The unit’s primary mission is to respond to crimes in progress, search and rescue operations and drug enforcement surveillance missions…

Allen said he saw the trip to Burning Man no differently than if his wife went along with him to a department function in “my vehicle assigned to me.”..

Allen said his undersheriff and a chief deputy also brought their wives along on a previous flight to Burning Man…

Allen needed to make the trip to Burning Man to meet with Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen, as well as Bureau of Land Management personnel. Burning Man staff also gave him a tour of the 70,000-person Black Rock City. Allen said he also greeted all of the Washoe County deputies working the event and attended a dinner, which included other law enforcement personnel and their spouses…

The day Allen and his family traveled to Burning Man included the celebration’s pinnacle event of the burning of the man.

Read the full story at the Reno-Gazette Journal

What is RAVEN? It’s the Regional Aviation Enforcement Unit.

In 1996, The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office was able to obtain four helicopters through the Department of Defense’s excess property program. The four aircraft that were delivered to the county were hulks that need quite a bit of restoration and overhaul before being transformed into useable assets. Building two flyable aircraft from the original four, the Regional Aviation Enforcement Unit, or RAVEN, was born. In addition to the two Kiowas that the unit operates, RAVEN is the proud operator of the very first of only 30 manufactured HH-1H Huey helicopters, originally built by Bell for the United States Air Force for Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) purposes. The two Kiowas and one Huey are all in outstanding mechanical condition thanks to the dedication of the full time and part time maintenance personnel assigned to the unit, and were acquired and refurbished using drug forfeiture money rather than taxpayer dollars.

Originally staffed with part-time pilots from the local Army Guard helicopter unit, RAVEN has become a self sufficient aviation unit that has dedicated deputies assigned both full and part time to flying duties.

[Source]

The RAVEN unit operates both rotary and fixed-wing aircraft. They use the OH-58 Kiowa, which is a 2 seater surveillance chopper; and the HH-1H Huey, which is a USAF Search And Rescue variant of one of the largest passenger capacity helicopters ever made. The standard model can take 14 troops as well as the 2 pilots. I’m guessing the Sheriff and his family rode in on the Huey; were there other civilians with them on this flight?

The story has this to say about the logistics:

The Reno Gazette-Journal obtained a flight log from the sheriff’s office that listed three RAVEN flights to Burning Man last year on Sept. 3, Sept. 4 and Sept. 5. However, no public records apparently exist to document the family members’ flight or whether any other civilian ride-alongs have occurred in the past.

According to the log, the helicopter departed Reno at 10:50 a.m. and returned at 11:20 p.m., reporting a total of three hours of actual flight time.

Allen said the flights were not “joy rides.” Rather, they were pre-planned missions that were able to accommodate the extra passengers.

“I would have to stress, yes, it was a scheduled mission,” he said. “I would never encourage or even allow someone to go on a joy ride.”

He said his wife and son stayed with him the entire day and did not travel to participate in the Burning Man event itself.

“My wife and son shadowed me the entire time,” he said.

[Source]

Even though they watched the Man burn (presumably from a VIP position), and attended a fully catered dinner, the Sheriff takes pains to stress that they didn’t participate in the Burning Man event. This is similar logic to BMOrg’s claim that 80,000 people sitting down to watch a 30-minute uninterruptible performance with hundreds of fire dancers, followed by an hour+ pyrotechnics show when they burn the Man, does not in any way constitute live entertainment.

It doesn’t sound like these civilians needed tickets. Glad to hear that the LEOs can entertain their families by spectating on all the participants. Hey, if they can’t have bottomless Chocotacos, at least they can perv on some titties and shirt-cockers, and laugh at all the freaks they’re looking down on.

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Read more about the Washoe RAVEN unit at Vertical Magazine.

 

5 comments on “Sheriff Takes Family on Raven Trip to Burning Man

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