Well-known East Bay helicopter pilot Bill Probets has been named chief pilot of East Bay Regional Park District’s Air Support Unit. The 13-year veteran of the district’s police department will command the district’s two search-and-rescue helicopters, Eagle 6 and Eagle 7.
The unit provides air support and conducts search-and-rescue missions for the 107,487 acres of often-rugged land in Alameda and Contra Costa counties that comprise the East Bay Regional Park District. In addition, the Air Support Unit provides helicopter services on contract for the East Bay Municipal Utilities District and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s operations near Sunol. Eagle 6 and 7 are familiar to many East Bay residents, as they are called into action almost daily under mutual-aid agreements to help East Bay police and fire agencies with bank robberies, barricaded suspects, pursuits, and in the summer, to drop water on wildland fires.
Probets, 53, is highly respected in the region’s airborne law enforcement community and has worked for many years in the helicopter industry. Prior to coming to the East Bay, he served as a police officer in the United Kingdom. Probets has declared his goal for 2011 to achieve national accreditation for his fleet through the Airborne Law Enforcement Association (ALEA), building on the high standards that earned the unit its accreditation through the California affiliate.
The promotion to chief pilot and sergeant of the Airborne Support Unit means Probets will lead a staff of three officers and one mechanic, and direct all activities and responses by Eagle 6 and 7 for the district, the two contract agencies and neighboring jurisdictions that ask for help under mutual-aid agreements.