It’s True: Iowa State Trooper Monitor Speeders From The Sky
Have you ever seen a sign that says "Speed Enforced by Aircraft," and wondered, how the heck that's even possible? We did, so we found out.
The Iowa State Patrol answered our call to find out more information by bringing their State Patrol plane to us, and taking us for a ride to give us a demonstration.
It turns out, that those horizontal white lines on the interstate and highways have a simple purpose, to work as a visual marker for a pilot and their passenger.
The process is less intense and futuristic than you think, as explained by Trooper Robert Conrad and demonstrated by Trooper-Pilot Taylor Grimm. These lines are spaced out down the interstate, exactly a quarter mile apart.
As vehicles pass over the hash marks, a timer is started to measure the time it takes to pass the next hash mark. When the timer is stopped, it automatically calculates the speed the vehicle is traveling.
If you're speeding, the pilot radios down to the Iowa State Trooper waiting along the roadway, who pulls out into traffic and communicates with the pilot to be sure they're catching up to the correct vehicle. A full confirmation has to be given by the pilot before the Trooper even flips on their lights to pull the vehicle over.
So, simple as that.
But, that's not all the plane is used for. An advanced camera system installed on the Cirrus SR-22 plane allows for a multitude of uses.
The camera has heat vision, for search and rescue, but it also is able to be used to follow a suspect vehicle in pursuit.
You might be able to get away from the Trooper's cars, but you're not getting away from a plane following you with a camera that can follow you from up to 10 miles away.
So, the next question you probably want to be answered is, "How do I know when these guys are up there watching me?"
Well, you could either A) drive the speed limit, or B) Check out any flight tracking app (not while you're driving, of course).
The plane's tail number, N227SP, is public information, so keep that in mind if you're looking to fly across I-80 anywhere.
Iowa State Patrol Airwing's tail number is a tribute to fallen Trooper Mark E. Toney, #227, who died on duty on September 20th, 2011.
Thanks to Trooper Robert Conrad and Trooper-Pilot Taylor Grimm for taking the time to help us understand one of the many ways the Iowa State Patrol work to keep us safer.