KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A retired Kansas City police officer got a pretty cool homecoming, and a chance to fly in a state-of-the-art police chopper.
Back in 1968 Captain Jack Brady was on the cutting edge when he dreamed that Kansas City police should add a helicopter to the force, and back then he had his detractors.
He was the first to suggest that the department buy several Hughes Helicopters from a company in California. At the time one commanding officer told him it would never work.
Now, police departments in most metro cities have choppers. In fact Kansas City bought three last year.
One month before he turns 88 years old, Captain Brady came back to the city's helicopter hanger for a special flight.
Captain Brady could likely talk about helicopters all day and night since they've been such a big part of his life. And the year 1968 doesn't seem so long ago to him. Pilots with the Kansas City, Mo. Police Department credit the captain for helping start its helicopter unit, long before some of them were even alive.
Captain Brady finished his 28 years with the department back in 1980, and on Monday he re-introduced himself to the flying force by driving up to the hangar and asking for a tour.
“I'm ready, and I can fly one of 'em too,” said Captain Brady.
Police did him one better. They took him for a ride as a passenger and flew high over the metro.
“Several cities had fixed wing. But helicopters were comparatively new. Some cities had helicopters, but they cost so much money. Kansas City, or anybody like that, couldn't afford them,” said Captain Brady.
Captain Brady scouted choppers in California and helped fly the department's first series of choppers home to Kansas City. By late 1960's standards $300,000 for each helicopter was considered a big expense, but the bird he flew in on Monday?
“These are about three million dollars apiece,” said Captain Kevin O'Sullivan with the KCPD’s helicopter unit.
Captain Brady’s 20 minute flight took him all around the city. Current officers and family members say it served as a reward for a life's work dedicated to innovation in police work.
“He loved the idea of it. Kansas City had none, but larger cities were starting to get them. He wanted to get them, and he loved flying anyway,” said Kelly Summers, Captain Brady’s daughter.
“It eventually would have happened, but for Kansas City to be on the forefront of it is a pretty exciting thing,” said Captain O’Sullivan.
“I have a lot of pride in the police department,” said Captain Brady. “I'll straighten some of you young guys out once in a while too.”
Kansas City police say Captain Brady worked with the military to get the city its choppers back in 1968. He also played a key role in starting the Airborne Law Enforcement Association, which now has more than 3,000 members across the country.