A view from the sky: KHP searches for stranded motorists


“Aboard and one passenger,” Kansas High Patrol Lieutenant Mark Schroeder said in the radio. “We’ll be in the Ellis County area.”  

While many troopers are on the ground, others are in the air with a common goal.

Assisting people on the roads, but this time from the sky.

“On frost patrol, we are mainly looking for broken down vehicles, stranded vehicles,” Schroeder said. “Obviously, we come across an accident or some kind in that nature.”

Schroeder has been flying for the Kansas Highway Patrol Air Support Unit for 20 years.

He said due to last weekend’s significant cold temperatures, he and several others are tasked to find stranded motorists in areas ground troopers won’t.

“Being up in the air gives you an entirely new advantage point of what you have on ground,” he said. “We’re able to see a lot more and a lot further.”

Rural roads and spotty cell phone service areas on the western part of the state is where he said he finds the most.

“If we find a stranded motorists, we’re going to notify a ground trooper, nearest ground trooper to go and assist that,” he said. “We don’t typically land.”

While flying during the day is nice, Schroeder said troopers are on call 24/7.

When it’s dark, they use thermal cameras.

“We can tell the vehicle has been running because of the heat,” he added. “We can also use the thermal camera to determine if people are there.”

Luckily, no one was stranded Monday afternoon, but he said each flight is important because it could potentially save a life.

“Anytime we have a flight, and we’re able to locate an individual, that makes you feel real good,” he said. “We’re here to help.”

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