The Marin County Sheriff’s Air Patrol Operations Unit was incorporated in 1951. It primarily focuses on support for law enforcement and public safety and support for search and rescue operations. The Air Patrol accomplishes its tasks through the use of over 20 volunteer pilots. Each year this group of pilots donates approximately 1,800 hours in missions, aerial patrols, aircraft maintenance, training, and meetings.

From 1951 to 2000 pilots used their own aircraft. From 2000 to 2016 the Air Patrol operated an ex-military Cessna T41. The AIr Patrol now flies a recently refurbished Cessna 182Q.

The MCSO Air Patrol serves at the pleasure of the Sheriff. A Sheriff’s Lieutenant is appointed as the liaison between the Sheriff and the volunteer members of the Air Patrol. That lieutenant oversees the operations and approves the missions of the Air Patrol. The Air Patrol command structure itself consists of a member elected captain who manages the daily operations of the unit with assistance from a lieutenant and a secretary/treasurer.  Pilots rotate every month into the mission coordinator position. The mission coordinator is responsible for facilitating and directing personnel and resources for all missions. 

The MCSO Air Patrol provides aviation services and support through the following:

  • Routine air patrols, especially over the unincorporated Marin coastal areas
  • Air support and relief during major disasters which includes:
    • Working with Office of Emergency Services and the Sheriff’s Office
    • Working with other local, state and federal agencies
    • Providing live aerial photos, videos and observations of affected areas
    • Providing aerial public address and warnings via a loud hailer
  • Aerial support for search and rescue of missing persons, planes, and vessels
  • Aerial support for investigations, including crime scene photography
  • Aerial support for Marijuana eradication operations
  • Mutual Aid requests