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Thread: Speed Limit Enforced by Aircraft

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  1. #1
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    Speed Limit Enforced by Aircraft

    The signs are everywhere...at least in Kalif...but has anyone actually been ticketed for speeding by an aircraft?

    Just curious

  2. #2
    I've seen these signs in nearby Virginia, and it never fails to illicit a hearty "WTF?" response from me. I'm so sure that law enforcement has the time, money and resources to hunt down speeders with helicopters.

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    Like some mythical nazca-like lines, Interstate 80 by me still has the marks of an odd era in vehicle speed enforcement.

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    I did once see a helicopter flying above the Pennsylvania turnpike. For the ~ 2 miles that it was in view, it was clearly tracking the road (ie, it followed the curves), but I have no idea if it was an official aircraft, or merely a private one using the road for simple navigation.

  5. #5
    C'mon. You don't think the aircraft operators do the ticketing, do you? They do the spotting, the observation, the measuring. They communicate with friendlies in surface vehicles and have them do the ticketing. They use a new thing called "radio".

    Ever notice the presence of markings on the highway, little Xs, perpendicular lines, or in some states even airplane silhouettes, that are 1/10 mile apart, convenient for groundspeed calculations with equipment as simple as a stopwatch? Like that Google aerial image above. That's speed-limit-enforced-with-aircraft territory.

    The Hook: NEWS- Air war: Speed limit really is enforced by planes

    With spring in full bloom, a Charlottesvillian's thoughts often turn to day-tripping by car. If you've ever considered those "Speed Limit Enforced by Aircraft" signs to be one of the heartiest haha's on America's highways, you may be surprised to learn that Virginia State Police really do enforce the speed limit from thousands of feet in the air. Anyway, aerial enforcement (as it's known in the police game) is very real. Virginia has been monitoring motorists from the air since July of 2000.

    Here's how it works. Two officers in a Cessna 182 (Virginia does not use helicopters for speed limit enforcement) will fly back and forth over a pre-determined section of highway that has been painted with start and finish lines half-a-mile apart.
    [...]
    When a vehicle is caught speeding, the officer in the plane radios to another unit on the ground which actually makes the stop.
    0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 ...

  6. #6
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    An answer from the Washington Post (about Virgina's enforcement)
    A web page for Maryland's State Police Aviation Command
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    How could anyone think this isn't done? That's just plain goofy.

    My father got a ticket this way once. He showed up in court to defend himself instead of just paying it, and won on the grounds that the vehicle description that the "bear in the air" gave to the ground cops wasn't unique enough for the ground cop to be sure he'd gotten the same vehicle that the pilot had seen. (He also won another case that didn't involve any aircraft, just by showing up, because the cop didn't.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bearded One View Post
    One afternoon some years back, I was driving (at the posted limit) south on the Gulf Freeway. This is a very flat highway, except for one aprticular overpass.

    As I topped the overpass, I saw a fully armed Apache heading north about 60 feet above the freeway... aimed right at me! I can only imagine how an opposing tank commander would feel in a similar situation.
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  10. #10
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    The first time I ever saw one of those signs was on the 5 freeway north.

    Five seconds after I passed it, a bird @#$%ed on my windshield.

    What I want to know is how does the Highway Patrol train those birds?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim View Post
    As I topped the overpass, I saw a fully armed Apache heading north about 60 feet above the freeway... aimed right at me! I can only imagine how an opposing tank commander would feel in a similar situation.
    Heh, I can imagine. I saw a Warthog over the highway when I was heading into Phoenix (from Tucson) in 2000. My rental's roof felt more than a little thin at the time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim View Post
    One afternoon some years back, I was driving (at the posted limit) south on the Gulf Freeway. This is a very flat highway, except for one aprticular overpass.

    As I topped the overpass, I saw a fully armed Apache heading north about 60 feet above the freeway... aimed right at me! I can only imagine how an opposing tank commander would feel in a similar situation.
    Completely off-topic, but (also some years back) we were driving in a similarly flat area of Kansas when a B-52 suddenly crossed in front of us, probably 1/2 mile ahead, about 100 feet off the deck. Later I read about some of their training and realized they were quite possibly flying with blackout curtains over the windscreen and navigating by TV....
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  13. #13
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    Speed monitored by aircraft was done in Wyoming forty years ago, I don't know where or when it was first done with any consistency.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Completely off-topic, but (also some years back) we were driving in a similarly flat area of Kansas when a B-52 suddenly crossed in front of us, probably 1/2 mile ahead, about 100 feet off the deck.
    My turn off-topic, just because the experience was so memorable. There was a grass fire about a mile from our house, and this bright yellow C-130 firefighting aircraft made several very low, full throttle, very steep (wings perpendicular to ground) passes right over our farm. It was so large, and so low, and so loud, and with it standing on one wing - it just gave us all goosebumps watching it. And I mean close; close enough that your instinct was to get out of the way.

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    In a high profile event (media-wise) they nailed a guy on a bike from the air in this area last year (or maybe the year before). I believe the police claimed he was doing 180, but some folks in the know about the particular model said it was not capable of more than 160. Either the police estimation was off, or the bike was well outfitted.

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    Re: Speed Limit Enforced by Aircraft

    Quote Originally Posted by farmerjumperdon View Post
    In a high profile event (media-wise) they nailed a guy on a bike from the air in this area last year (or maybe the year before). I believe the police claimed he was doing 180, but some folks in the know about the particular model said it was not capable of more than 160. Either the police estimation was off, or the bike was well outfitted.
    Man, he must have been pedaling awfully hard!

    Around here, it's the generic single-engine airplane outline painted white, and spaced every 1/10 mile.

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    Quote Originally Posted by farmerjumperdon View Post
    In a high profile event (media-wise) they nailed a guy on a bike from the air in this area last year (or maybe the year before). I believe the police claimed he was doing 180, but some folks in the know about the particular model said it was not capable of more than 160. Either the police estimation was off, or the bike was well outfitted.
    Rounding error from measuring the speed over too short a distance. Measurement residuals multiply. If you're measuring over only 1/10th of a mile, a quarter of second error with the stopwatch means an error of 2.5 seconds worth of distance over an entire mile. At highway speeds, that can definitely mean you get targetted for a ticket even though you've got the cruise set to exactly hold the limit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Moose View Post
    Rounding error from measuring the speed over too short a distance. Measurement residuals multiply. If you're measuring over only 1/10th of a mile, a quarter of second error with the stopwatch means an error of 2.5 seconds worth of distance over an entire mile. At highway speeds, that can definitely mean you get targetted for a ticket even though you've got the cruise set to exactly hold the limit.
    Hmm -- only 4% error at 60 mph. Is radar any better?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by pghnative View Post
    Hmm -- only 4% error at 60 mph. Is radar any better?
    I have heard and read (local paper had a story about this once), that radar are guns are typically no better than +/- 5 mph (or at least the cops don't trust them to be any more accurate). I don't know the details (is this a fixed error or linear with value), but at 60 mph, that works out to 8%.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    I have heard and read (local paper had a story about this once), that radar are guns are typically no better than +/- 5 mph (or at least the cops don't trust them to be any more accurate). I don't know the details (is this a fixed error or linear with value), but at 60 mph, that works out to 8%.
    Eh, that's about right. A lot more has to do with operator error than the radar itself. Lasers much more accurate, but less versitile; atmospheric conditions can become more of a problem. also laser can't be used while moving whereas radar can.

    Air enforcement is fairly accurate, as long as the lines or whatever landmarks are being used are properly spaced. usually if ur air enforcing, you're going for the speeders that are well over the limit anyway. doesn't matter if you were going 85 or only 78, if the speed limits only 65 or 55 :-P

    edit: ha! i can't believe i actually used the "word" 'ur' . Too many online games for me i guess.

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    I've heard one story of a police aircraft actually landing on the road in front of a car that was being driven at an extraordinary rate of speed. It was a road rally modified Triumph, and the road was one of those endless straight highways in the midwest with no powerlines next to it.

    The officer supposedly said something to the effect that he was having some difficulty staying with the driver from the air.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doodler View Post
    I've heard one story of a police aircraft actually landing on the road in front of a car that was being driven at an extraordinary rate of speed. It was a road rally modified Triumph, and the road was one of those endless straight highways in the midwest with no powerlines next to it.

    The officer supposedly said something to the effect that he was having some difficulty staying with the driver from the air.
    I'm confused, Doodler. (Yeah, I know, that's nothing new!)

    The pilot was having difficulty keeping up with the car, but he landed his aircraft in front of it?

  23. #23
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    There's a video on youtube or somewhere of a suzuki hiyabusa running from police. A news helicopter starts filming him and he actually manages to outrun it too!

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    Cars need to follow road curves. Planes don't. The plane may have been able to cut some corners to get ahead of the car just long enough to land in front of it.

    It's either that or the plane managed to snag some handy floating nitro power-ups FTW.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moose View Post
    Cars need to follow road curves. Planes don't. The plane may have been able to cut some corners to get ahead of the car just long enough to land in front of it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Doodler View Post
    [T]he road was one of those endless straight highways...

  26. #26
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    Hmm. Then he might have landed to pick up those "used only once, small stain" JATOs from the Impala UL.

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    Ohio uses this too. Altho it's not usually helicopters, but small two-person planes. It's not used often, but they'll selectively use (on heavy travel days, like thanksgiving). Or they'll target a certian area for a week or so that's been having a lot of accidents or chronic speeders. Obviously, it's really only used on highways. So it kinda makes sense that it's the State Highway Patrol that usually heads to the skies. Some states/areas have thier own aircraft, if not they just contract a pilot and craft.

    Funniest story I know about said technique is the guy that got targeted by the plane and the patrolman on the ground flagged him over. The driver began ranting that he was only pulled over because he was a minority and that this was descrimination; as if they could see what he looked like from the plane!

    (Hint: When driving down the highway and you start to notice a series of white lines running across the road perpendicular to you, slow down. they have to time you from 2-3 different benchmarks before they can pull you over).

  28. #28
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    The only speeding ticket I have received was from being tracked from the air. They clocked me at around 122km/h. Thank goodness they didn't see me when I was passing a line of RV's at about 160.

    I'm sure a few of you have seen these, but they are appropriate for the thread:
    http://www.micom.net/oops/SpeedEnforcement1.jpg
    http://www.micom.net/oops/SpeedEnforcement2.jpg

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Wilson View Post
    The signs are everywhere...at least in Kalif...but has anyone actually been ticketed for speeding by an aircraft?

    Just curious
    Ticketed? I was figuring you'd get strafed!
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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by ToSeek View Post
    Ticketed? I was figuring you'd get strafed!
    I did, once, sort of. Many years ago, we were going through the Mojave desert in a van with the air conditioner going full blast, making the interior temperature barely tolerable. There were "Speed limit enforced by radar" signs and at the time the speed limit was 55 mph. We wanted to get home where it was much cooler, the straight freeway and flat desert was absolutely empty but for us, and we were going over 90. We had kept an eye out for police cars . . . only to have a shadow coming over us, soon followed by a CHP helicopter.

    No ticket, but we did slow down.

    In fairness, it would have been a horrible place to have an accident or a problem with overheating.

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