Oklahoma Native Trains Pilots That Patrol US-Mexico Border
It takes a bit of training before pilots with U.S. Customs and Border Protection patrol the Mexico border.
Before they do, all pilots must go through training which is held right in the Oklahoma City metro at Will Rogers World Airport.
Pilot Tod Yates knows a thing or two about helicopters.
Now training pilots for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the aircraft has always been the center of his career.
“It is a very exhilarating experience,” said Yates. “I love being able to be outside. I’m not closed up in an office.”
You may not have seen him, but Yates likely has seen you from the sky above the metro. He's spent two decades flying the Oklahoma City's police helicopter, Air One.
“As far as searching for suspects, how to fly the aircraft safety, all those aspects are carried over to AMO (Air and Marine Operations),” said Yates.
Each new pilot flying for the organizations Air and Marine Operations undergo weeks of training from a hangar at Will Rogers.
It's a requirement to keep training going.
“We have pilots that come to work for AMO, primarily that are from the military (and) from all the different branches of the military,” said Yates. “We also have a lot of civilian pilots that come to work here.”
Mountainous and unforgiving terrain along the border requires anyone to constantly remain alert. Training is essential.
“It is, for us, to be able to clearly and accurately evaluate new hires as they come through to know that we are getting the quality people that we want to be able to aircraft,” said Yates.