Huntington Beach : City Buys a Second Quiet Helicopter

A second "Quiet Knight" will soon cruise the skies above Huntington Beach as two older, noisier Bell helicopters will be sold off for such uses as crop dusting.

The City Council authorized the purchase of a Hughes 500E helicopter at a price of $486,089. The helicopter is equipped with a quiet tail rotor that makes it less annoying to city residents and easier to sneak up on felons, said Aero Bureau commander Lt. Robert Morrison.

"Even the crooks don't hear us," he said. "We can be circling right above them, directing a pursuit, and they'll tell us later that they didn't hear a thing."

It will take about two months for delivery and the Police Department will then begin seeking bids for the two aircraft, which are expected to fetch a price between $60,000 and $90,000. Both the older helicopters will soon need major overhauls and Morrison said several inquiries have already been received, mostly from agricultural firms. "They don't care much about the noise," he said.

The Police Department has dubbed the Hughes models "Quiet Knights" and even registered the name with the state, said Morrison. He said the department will operate all four helicopters for a few months while the bidding process proceeds.

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