|Carabineros de Chile – Law Enforcement in Green, 2017
|Rating out of 10: Not an air show
The green-uniformed Carabineros de Chile in 2017 celebrated their 90th anniversary of their official founding. There were other watch and local policing organisations in Chile, the earliest possibly being the Dragones de la Reina (Queen's Dragoons) created in 1758. Such local police organisations reported to the local authorities and not the central government. After various instances where the local officials abused this power for their own political ends, it was decided to have one unified, paramilitary and national security institution under the direction of the national government.
|The Carabineros de Chile, being a gendarmerie-type police corps, reported until 2011 to the Ministry of National Defence. Six years ago their control was transferred to the Ministry of the Interior and Public Security, which thus became responsible for all the Chilean police forces which also include the Investigations Police of Chile and the Maritime Police. Although fully separated from the other three military branches (Army, Navy and Air Force) and reporting to the civilian authorities, the Carabineros are still considered a part of the armed forces.
|The primary task of the Carabineros de Chile is to maintain or re-establish order and security in Chilean society through civic education, service to the community, police work, and in case of war, to act as a military force where the Carabineros would be integrated directly into the Armed Forces in a state of emergency to better guarantee the public order.
|The Carabineros connection with aviation started in June 1948 when the Club Aéreo de Carabineros was formed. The Aero Club received in August 1949 its first aircraft, a Cessna145, the 145hp Warner Super Scarab radial piston engined version of the Cessna C-34 Airmaster. Four years later, in 1953, it was decided to see if it would be possible to integrate aircraft into police operations. Thus the Aero Club became involved in police air operations mostly using its Cessna 170s and continued to function as the Carabineros air arm until 17 February 1960 when the Brigada Aeropolicial was established to conduct aerial police work. The unit operated solely fixed-wing aircraft, mostly Cessnas, for almost a decade because the first two helicopters, Fairchild Hiller FH-1100, were acquired in 1969. The Museo Histórico Carabineros de Chile counts amongst its exhibits a Hughes 300, CC-KKO/C-03, which, although shown in the colours of the Brigada Aeropolicial, was acquired by the Aero Club.
|On 24 April 1972 the Brigada Aeropolicial was transformed into the Prefectura Aérea de Carabineros de Chile, a separate specialist branch within the Corps. This re-organisation, with separate fixed-wing and helicopter sections, was due to ever-increasing and expanding roles of the unit which was now performing patrol, search and rescue, traffic observation, forest observation, medical transport and disaster relief operations all over the Chilean national territory.
|Today the Prefectura Aérea operates a modern mixed fixed-wing and rotary-wing fleet which includes:
|Agusta A109E Power
|Bell 206 Jet Ranger
|Bölkow Kawasaki BK-117
|Beechcraft Raytheon 200 Super King Air
|Cessna U206B Super Skywagon
|Cessna C-210N Centurion II
|Cessna T-210 Centurion
|Cessna 550 Citation Bravo
|Piper 31 Navajo
|Piper 31T Cheyenne I
|Most of these aircraft types can be seen at Santiago-Tobalaba where the Prefectura Aérea and also the Aero Club are based and where maintenance is performed as well. More aircraft are operated by sections spread over seven police zones throughout Chile.
A helicopter closely associated with the Carabineros is the Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm Bö105, which entered operations with the Prefectura Aérea on October 1, 1976. Up to that time helicopter operations were performed by the Hughes 300 and the FH-1100. However, these small helicopters were quite limited in capability and performance to meet the demanding task of fast Aeromedical Rescue in the high altitudes and often adverse weather conditions met in the Chilean highlands. The selection, in 1974, fell on the 5-seat, IFR-capable twin-engined Bö105 which had back access as well as sliding doors to each side facilitating the loading of stretchers. Initially six machines were acquired and there were additional acquisitions over time, either to replace helicopters lost in operations or just to expand the size of the fleet. The importance of the Bö105 to the Prefectura Aérea helicopter operations is commemorated by the preservation of at least two machines out of the fifteen that were in the fleet. C-19 (c/n 365) is found in the main hall of the Museo Nacional Aeronáutico y del Espacio in Santiago. Another one, with fictitious serial C-01, stands guard at the gate of the Prefectura Aérea base at Tobalaba aerodrome.
|The mixed fleet, equipped with the most modern technologies and machines, operated by the Prefectura Aérea ensures that this branch of the green-liveried Carabineros de Chile delivers a professional, motivated and effective quality service.
Report and photography by Anthony F. Seychell for