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Highway is "Aircraft Patrolled" - Has anyone actually been caught by this?

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  • Nov 14th, 2010 6:42 pm
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Deal Fanatic
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Sep 2, 2006
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Stouffville, ON

Highway is "Aircraft Patrolled" - Has anyone actually been caught by this?

Hey guys,

I drive on Major Mackenzie drive a lot and I always see these signs and I never get around to asking, but has anyone actually been caught by a plane/chopper? I'm assuming it'd have to be during the day, relatively clear skies and have enough time to radio officers waiting on the ground, but let's assuming this was the case. How would they get on your car? Super duper radar/laser? And if you go to court, the pilot, officer in plane and guy on ground needs to show up in court?

How fast would you need to be going in order to justify the cost? I'm also assuming those planes are reserved for 150km/h+ speeders where the revenue for the province would be high? As well, the OPP says they only have 1 or 2 of these planes (as per news broadcasts during "blitz weekends"). Okay so my question: is that sign just an idle threat?
37 replies
Deal Addict
Jan 13, 2007
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Don't have answers but it's funny because it seems like these signs are placed where the traffic is barely moving, such as DVP and 401
Deal Expert
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Jan 27, 2006
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Woodbridge
Never been caught or seen others but...



Back in the day with Club RSX, there was like 15+ of us cruising/hanging out around Yonge & Hwy. 7, this was around 11PM late January.

We look up there was helicopter and next thing two York Cruisers asking us what are plans are? They thought we were Street Racing. LOL
"I'll put up color bars before I'll put you in front of our cameras."

- MacKenzie
THE NEWSROOM (HBO)
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Feb 26, 2008
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The aircraft enforcement exists, but it is uncommon.

The technique is quite simple. There are mileage markers painted on the highway at specified intervals, and an officer uses a chronograph to time how fast you go from one mileage marker to the next. He then looks at a table that converts time and distance into km/h (ie, if you go 500m in 15 seconds, that means you were going 120), and radios to a cruiser to pull you over. AFAIK, both the officer in the airplane and the officer in the cruiser need to go to court to provide adequate evidence to convict you. It's a pretty expensive speed trap, IMO.

Much cheaper to just have a cruiser parked on the median with a lidar unit.
Jr. Member
Dec 5, 2005
152 posts
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Saskatoon
They use it here fairly often. They have marks on the ground at a set distance. The time it takes you to go between marks is looked up on a chart or maybe into a computer and it will give you a speed. They then radio a ground unit to pull over that car. They usually will have the ground unit up ahead and can pull over many many many vehicles in a short period of time :evil: It is very easy to spot a speeding vehicle from the air. They stand out from the "pack".


I think the name for it is VASCAR
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Mar 23, 2004
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kneevase wrote:
Nov 11th, 2010 1:07 pm
The aircraft enforcement exists, but it is uncommon.

The technique is quite simple. There are mileage markers painted on the highway at specified intervals, and an officer uses a chronograph to time how fast you go from one mileage marker to the next. He then looks at a table that converts time and distance into km/h (ie, if you go 500m in 15 seconds, that means you were going 120), and radios to a cruiser to pull you over.
Oh yeah the "technique" is sure simple but it's also horribly inaccurate. I mean a stopwatch and human timing? What absolute rubbish, honestly. I'm surprised they don't get away with counting manually "one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand" because it's not much worse. :rolleyes:

Imagine if they used a dude with a stopwatch in modern-day auto racing or even in test reviews of road cars in such publications as Car & Driver, etc? In the US at least they have choppers that have real ground-targetting radar that can get a vehicle's actual speed, not some haphazard half-assed guess at your speed.

And over a 500m distance too. Are these idiots in law enforcement for real? Maybe if it were over several kms, sure, it might be a tad more accurate but 500m? A one second difference in timing is nearly 10km/h difference in speed, and then even seeing exactly when the exact same part of the car passes the mark as the mark you started on, from thousands feet in the air, is utterly humanly impossible. The only reason why this horse manure stands up in any court is because of the general "speeding is evil" norm that exists nearly universally in society along with the selection of profiteering over real road safety by the government :rolleyes:

Now if they radioed the cop on the ground and they caught you with real radar that's another story, but if they pull you over and just use the airplane nonsense, that's a total joke.

Send a bunch of f$*#ing monkeys up in a plane to horse around and do stupidness all day and then have the public pay for it with the proceeds of the nonsense it pretends to enforce. Can anyone say perverted?
kneevase wrote:
Nov 11th, 2010 1:07 pm
Much cheaper to just have a cruiser parked on the median with a lidar unit.
And much more expensive than either to actually do something to make roads safer.
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Apr 13, 2003
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ES_Revenge wrote:
Nov 11th, 2010 1:41 pm
And over a 500m distance too. Are these idiots in law enforcement for real? Maybe if it were over several kms, sure, it might be a tad more accurate but 500m? A one second difference in timing is nearly 10km/h difference in speed, and then even seeing exactly when the exact same part of the car passes the mark as the mark you started on, from thousands feet in the air, is utterly humanly impossible. The only reason why this horse manure stands up in any court is because of the general "speeding is evil" norm that exists nearly universally in society along with the selection of profiteering over real road safety by the government :rolleyes:

It's actually an inverse curve function (I think that's what it's called, it was years ago that I did math!) so it depends what speed you are going how much of a difference it makes. For example 20 seconds to 19 seconds is a 4.7 km/h difference. The difference between a 36 second time and a 35 is only 1.4 km/hr
Either way, it doesn't make sense compared to regular radar, but with this gov't it seems to be more about putting on a show rather then accomplishing something.
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Feb 26, 2008
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ES_Revenge wrote:
Nov 11th, 2010 1:41 pm
Oh yeah the "technique" is sure simple but it's also horribly inaccurate. I mean a stopwatch and human timing? What absolute rubbish, honestly. I'm surprised they don't get away with counting manually "one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand" because it's not much worse. :rolleyes:


Ummm. You don't need to be extremely precise to prove that somebody is exceeding the speed limit. If you're going 100, it should take you 18 seconds to drive 500m. If you are at 120, it's 15 seconds. An officer might be a fraction of a second too fast or too slow in hitting the start/stop button, but unless he's brain dead he won't be three whole seconds too fast or too slow. To convict somebody, all you have to do is prove that they're over 100. And if you're getting 15 seconds on the chronometer, there's no reasonable doubt that they're at or below the limit. Further, it would be a rare event to have somebody pulled over for 120....so really you're probably talking about more like 14 or 14.5 seconds before anyone ever gets pulled over.

I don't think air enforcement makes much sense, but what can you do when the big boys like their toys (airplanes!).
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Nov 16, 2007
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m4gician wrote:
Nov 11th, 2010 12:48 pm
Hey guys,

I drive on Major Mackenzie drive a lot and I always see these signs and I never get around to asking, but has anyone actually been caught by a plane/chopper? I'm assuming it'd have to be during the day, relatively clear skies and have enough time to radio officers waiting on the ground, but let's assuming this was the case. How would they get on your car? Super duper radar/laser? And if you go to court, the pilot, officer in plane and guy on ground needs to show up in court?

How fast would you need to be going in order to justify the cost? I'm also assuming those planes are reserved for 150km/h+ speeders where the revenue for the province would be high? As well, the OPP says they only have 1 or 2 of these planes (as per news broadcasts during "blitz weekends"). Okay so my question: is that sign just an idle threat?

I think it's an idle threat. They had a some program launched several years ago. The program lacked funding. So, the relatively *cheaper* signs got planted into the ground, but nothing ever came out of it ... at least in Ontario, as far as i remember.

Can't speak for elsewhere.

There's an example of this idle threat in Toronto area. Such as long time ago, i saw the *red light camera* signs at intersections much long before the red-light camera got installed. In those days, whenever i was stopped at the intersection, i looked for the camera... my buddy who was with me thought that the light detector on top of the signal was the camera.... well, long and behold, those bulkya$$ things are now installed at some end of the intersection.

I think my buddy over-estimated what our MTO is capable of with their wallets.

Whether it's Montreal, Hong Kong or Brazil, those red-light/speed cameras look all have a similar design ... and nothing small and conspicuous.

And most often than not, i see the signs much sooner before the entire program is put in place.
Deal Guru
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Jun 12, 2007
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Pretty common out west prior to photo radar. For example, hwy2 between Edmonton and Calgary. You would see 5-10 victims pulled over on the shoulder at a time waiting for their tickets. If a chain of cars is speeding, the entire chain gets tagged.
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Feb 24, 2007
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m4gician wrote:
Nov 11th, 2010 12:48 pm
Hey guys,

I drive on Major Mackenzie drive a lot and I always see these signs and I never get around to asking, but has anyone actually been caught by a plane/chopper? I'm assuming it'd have to be during the day, relatively clear skies and have enough time to radio officers waiting on the ground, but let's assuming this was the case. How would they get on your car? Super duper radar/laser? And if you go to court, the pilot, officer in plane and guy on ground needs to show up in court?

How fast would you need to be going in order to justify the cost? I'm also assuming those planes are reserved for 150km/h+ speeders where the revenue for the province would be high? As well, the OPP says they only have 1 or 2 of these planes (as per news broadcasts during "blitz weekends"). Okay so my question: is that sign just an idle threat?

They won't jump off the chop to get you of course. Or even chase you down the road and then give you a ticket. Instead, there will be a cop somewhere down the road the nail you down. But I think it's uncommon as fly a chop is quite expensive.
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arm2000 wrote:
Nov 11th, 2010 12:55 pm
Don't have answers but it's funny because it seems like these signs are placed where the traffic is barely moving, such as DVP and 401

Signs on the DVP do not indicate it's air enforced. Nor does it bare markings that would allow an airplane to detect it's speed.


401 is a long stretch of road, and parts of it are painted to allow for aircraft enforcement. I've heard of people getting tickets mainly around the cornwall area. Cornwall is perfect for enforcement. It's way too far from Toronto for people to fight it, and just far enough that anyone with a decent job in Kingston, Ottawa or Montreal won't bother fighting it.
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GangStarr wrote:
Nov 12th, 2010 1:40 am
Signs on the DVP do not indicate it's air enforced. Nor does it bare markings that would allow an airplane to detect it's speed.


401 is a long stretch of road, and parts of it are painted to allow for aircraft enforcement. I've heard of people getting tickets mainly around the cornwall area. Cornwall is perfect for enforcement. It's way too far from Toronto for people to fight it, and just far enough that anyone with a decent job in Kingston, Ottawa or Montreal won't bother fighting it.

what does that mean decent job? Meaning they won't sacrifice their time to try and save on insurance + ticket cost? As well, the method for catching someone is not infrared, 3D, or advanced radar but some sort of mathematical equation? Wow. You spend so much putting a bird in the air and you don't use some sort of laser tagging?
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http://pbdba.lfpress.com/cgi-bin/publis ... &s=societe
[INDENT]OPP: Aircraft are used to spot and track offenders on the roads
Eyes high in sky at work for police
Kate Dubinski
The London Free Press

Next time you're thinking of putting the pedal to the metal, look up.

OPP Sgt. Dan Cameron flies a new Cessna owned by the OPP.


"Look at that guy down there. He's just flying." -- Sgt. Don Cameron spots a speeding motorist from the air.


The plane, shown taking off from Tillsonburg airport, is used primarily to track speeding cars on the 400 series highways and to alert officers on the roads to stop the vehicles.

The Ontario Provincial Police plane, the force's eye in the sky, could be watching without you even knowing it.

That's how police clocked a Ferrari on the Hwy. 401 racing along at 283 km/h.

That's how they tailed a motorcycle, whose driver refused to stop for cruisers, from the 401 to St. Thomas, into Aylmer and into Tillsonburg, where the driver finally pulled over at a gas station.

About 1,300 feet above ground, and especially if you've been doing the job as long as Sgt. Don Cameron, it's not difficult to spot a speeder or aggressive lane changer.

"Look at that guy down there. He's just flying," Cameron says as he guides the Cessna 206 above the highway in Oxford County.

"We get a lot of high-end vehicles this way."

Porsches, Ferraris and Mercedes are common, he says.

Cameron pilots one of three dedicated OPP traffic planes. The OPP also rents more planes for long weekends, when patrols are increased in the air and on the ground.

There are also four helicopters, two based in Orillia and two in Sudbury.

The plane Cameron flies is based out of Tillsonburg.

With Cameron in the aircraft is another officer who handles a chart that, with simple math, can help calculate how quickly someone is driving below.

There are marks evenly spaced on the highway below, and by counting how many seconds a vehicle takes to go between the marks, officers can tell how fast they're going.

For officers like Cameron, who's been flying for the OPP for years, it's easy to tell which vehicles are speeding.

"I bet that guy is going about 135 km/h," Cameron estimates without glancing at any chart, pointing to a grey vehicle passing tanker trucks.

On the flight patrols, the officer with the chart is also in contact with four "interceptors," or cruisers on the ground.

"The officer is checking the hash marks, and if he sees someone speeding, he'll radio the interceptors to let them know the colour of the vehicle and the lane they are in," says Oxford OPP Const. Dennis Harwood.

The officers who radio down to cruisers on the ground often have to present their findings when speeding, aggressive driving or stunting charges make it to court.

The eye in the sky program was brought back in May 2008.

Revived by OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino who saw success in Ohio -- where state police use 13 aircraft -- the program has netted more than 8,000 charges.

Charges for speeding, stunting, following too closely, impaired driving and careless driving have been laid, as well as numerous people caught roadside who turn out to have outstanding warrants.

"A lot of people will see an officer set up doing radar on the side of the road and they'll warn other people, but drivers rarely look up," Harwood said.

The Ontario planes are also used for surveillance and crime scene photography. They've helped out with searches in the Tori Stafford abduction case, Cameron said.

"But 90% of our day is traffic patrol," he said. This is just one of the tools that we have."

Used with laser radar and general patrol, and reports of risky behaviour, the program has resulted in fewer fatalities on OPP-patrolled roadways, Harwood said.

In 2007, there were 451 fatalities. In 2008 there were 322, an almost 30% drop. In 2009, fatalities are down 10% from the same time last year.

"People are dying to get where they're going," Harwood said. "It's tragic . . . If everyone drove according to the rules of the road, we wouldn't have these problems."

Kate Dubinski is a Free Press reporter.
[/INDENT]


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