It doesn't take long to get across town in an Los Angeles Police Department helicopter.
It's about 27 minutes from South L.A. to The Valley if you book it. The department cites the city's sprawl as one of the main justifications for its fleet of 17 active duty helicopters, the largest such fleet in the country.
A single helicopter is staffed by a pilot and a tactical flight officer. That officer acts as a spotter and communicates with dispatch as well as police units on the ground.
Every day, there are at least two helicopters patrolling the sky in approximately two-hour shifts from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 a.m.
We went on an 8:30 a.m. flight that lasted about three hours and took us from south to north.
We escorted a police officer who was doing a crosstown bicycle ride for charity. We monitored the situation at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where there had been reports of a man with a weapon. We corkscrewed over South L.A. for 10 minutes looking for a suspect on foot.
When it was all over, we touched down back in Downtown Los Angeles at the largest helipad in the country, the size of an air carrier.