The Marin County Sheriff’s Air Patrol Operations Unit was incorporated in 1951. The mission of the Air Patrol has matured over the years; it now 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 2001 pilots used their own aircraft in the course of their services. In 1999, a discarded military training plane was acquired. After 18-months of dedicated hard work, members of the Air Patrol restored the plane from the ground up and put it into service where it still serves to this day as “Air One”. Air One flies over 200 hours each year. In addition, member-owned aircraft are at the disposal of the Air Patrol and the Sheriff’s Office. They are primarily used for transportation and backup.

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
  • Transportation for Sheriff’s Office personnel or prisoners
  • Aerial support for investigations, including crime scene photography
  • Aerial support for Marijuana eradication operations
  • Mutual Aid requests