A cure for traffic jams

Would you rather have a Cessna 172 orbiting above you or be parked in traffic on the interstate for several hours while law enforcement officers investigate an accident? The Wisconsin State Patrol has a pretty good idea what the answer is. The agency uses a 2001 Cessna 172SP for, among other things, accident investigation.

According to Wisconsin State Trooper Glenn Haroldson, the plane is used to take photos that are then used to reconstruct accident scenes without shutting down the interstate for an extended period of time while officers do measurements.

“We also use the aircraft when we assist the sheriff’s department or other state agencies covering a large crime scene that would normally take days or weeks to map out with a tape measure and a laser unit,” he said. “We can do that with photogrammetry.”

Another benefit of aerial surveillance is that it allows officers to patrol a wider area, as well as follow drivers who are attempting to evade law enforcement at high speeds without putting other citizens at risk, he noted.

Haroldson, accompanied by Trooper Gary Markowski, manned the Wisconsin State Trooper exhibit at this summer’s AirVenture. The Cessna 172SP, outfitted with special equipment for traffic enforcement and investigation, was open for public viewing.

Markowski, who has been a pilot with the State Patrol since 1989, noted that the newer model 172s are more comfortable for patrol work than their predecessors.

“When I started we were flying 1976 models,” he recalled. “When these new ones came along in 2001, it was quite a change! These are air tight and actually stay warm in the winter.”

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