Gov. Edwards’ harrowing flight culminating in aborted Shreveport landing and him being driven back to Baton Rouge from Alexandria may have altered State Police flight policy on Bell 430 helicopters.

A Louisiana State Police Bell 430 Helicopter, which State Police no longer allows to be flown in adverse weather conditions.

On December 27, 2020, we informed our subscribers that we’d be presenting an in-depth investigative series on the operations of Louisiana State Police (LSP)’s Air Support Unit.  The feature just linked entailed the retirement of former LSP Trooper and pilot Michael Satcher, II in the aftermath of criminal charges pending against him for alleged domestic abuse of his dating partner, Cynthia Chapman.

For those curious about Satcher’s court hearing of last week (February 25, 2021), we have been informed that the result of the court hearing was Satcher declining to accept an offered plea deal, thus prompting the matter to proceed forward on to trial at a future date.

Today, Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns further examines concerns that multiple individuals who assert familiarity with LSP’s Air Support Unit’s operations have expressed regarding alleged disregard for the safety of those who fly onboard LSP aircraft and allegations of deficiencies entailing maintenance on LSP aircraft.

Specifically, one of the matters with which Burns was presented was a harrowing flight entailing Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards in late 2018.  In the following video, Burns elaborates upon the circumstances of the harrowing flight and the results of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) investigation of the flight, which was conducted at the request of Burns, who also alerted the FAA of other allegations of those who contacted Burns with concerns regarding LSP Air Support operations:

Burns describes Gov. Edwards’ harrowing late-2018 flight onboard a Bell 430 helicopter.

As mentioned in the video above, Burns received an official FAA email on Friday, February 26, 2021 indicating that, “the investigation did not substantiate a violation of an order, regulation or standard of the FAA related to operational or maintenance issues at Louisiana State Police Air Support” pertaining to the flight entailing Gov. Edwards.  In fact, as mentioned in the video above, FAA officials emphasized that the bottom line is that the pilot, Eric Frazier, “got Gov. Edwards’ two feet safely back on the ground,” and indicated that was most certainly an act to be commended given the weather conditions with which Frazier was confronted that day.  Also as emphasized, the FAA official who conversed with Burns indicated that, while he did not know if it was that harrowing flight that has resulted in LSP’s Air Support Unit changing its policy to no longer permit the older Bell 430 aircraft to be flown in weather conditions such as those which existed on the day of Edwards’ flight, he felt that policy change was an appropriate move on LSP’s Air Support’s part.

Also as referenced in the video above, Burns did discuss with the FAA official concerns expressed by his sources that LSP Air Support was passing over pilots with far more flight hours to promote pilots with far fewer hours.  The FAA official indicated that, if that is indeed transpiring, it is a “horrible practice,” but he further stated that FAA had no jurisdiction whatsoever to tell LSP that one pilot has to be hired over another.  The bottom line is that, as long as the pilot has the minimum certification required for flying the aircraft, that’s as far as the FAA can go (i. e. ensuring that minimum certification is fulfilled).

With that in mind, we’re going to replicate a video from our prior feature openly questioning if LSP’s Air Support Unit had conned the LSPC regarding de-emphasizing hours at this time:

Given FAA officials’ description of promoting pilots with fewer flight hours over those with more flight hours as a “horrible practice,” one can only openly question Mark Morrison’s commentary in the above video of November 8, 2018, only about a month after the harrowing flight Gov. Edwards was on as relayed in first the video above.

Hearing the details of the harrowing nature of Gov. Edwards’ flight of late 2018 (which nobody we’ve talked to disputes was indeed harrowing), we could not help but reflect back to statements that then-Rep. John Bel Edwards made to the Baton Rouge Press Club on July 21, 2014 entailing his days at West Point and his training.  The video we just created of his commentary in that regard is only 37 seconds long, so let’s take a look:

Then-State Rep. John Bel Edwards (D-Amite) speaks at the Baton Rouge Press Club meeting of July 21, 2014 of his West Point training entailing airplanes.

When told of the harrowing experience Edwards had in late 2018, one of Sound Off Louisiana’s most dedicated and loyal subscribers jokingly said, “Sounds to me like he may need to dust off those parachutes he had from West Point and keep them handy for flights on LSP’s helicopters!”

That’s going to conclude this initial feature on LSP’s Air Support Unit, and our next feature in this series will focus on the extent to which LSP’s Air Support Unit has in fact passed over pilots with more flight hours to select pilots with fewer flight hours for openings and promotions at the Unit.

Last but not least, in the first video above, we promised a little “lagniappe.”  Subscribers may recall that we were encouraged to make a pubic records request late last year to see if LSP Trooper Kory York had faced any discipline entailing the Ronald Greene incident.  When we did so, the results of our public records request dated November 19, 2020 revealed that, at that time, his only disciplinary matter entailed a traffic incident from a decade ago.

York’s disciplinary file has now expanded and, as AP Reporter Jim Mustian reported yesterday (February 27, 2021), York was suspended for 50 hours.  That disciplinary measure was handed down by former LSP Col. Kevin Reeves in his last week in office and, in the previously-linked article, current LSP Col. Lamar Davis indicated that he, “would have imposed more severe discipline,” had it been up to him.

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