Tulare County Sheriff’s new aviation unit honors fallen pilots

News

A year and a half after two Tulare County Deputy pilots died in a plane crash in Springville, the department unveiled a revamped aviation unit.

They purchased two new planes, eight drones and even moved the aviation fleet to Porterville.

The planes are Cessna 206s.

One is named Wren after the first deputy ever killed in the line of duty in the department.

The other plane is named after Pilot James Chaves and Deputy Scott Ballantyne.

“The sheriff Cessna 206 is named Tribute in honor and in tribute of these two fallen and all of our fallen,” said Sheriff Mike Boudreaux.

The tail of the plane has the initials JC on it, it’s the initials of James Chavez.

“If you look at the tail number 189 it’s deputy Ballantyne’s badge number which is retired,” said Boudreaux.
 
“I think it’s a wonderful tribute the name is great for the aircraft, that’s quite an honor for scott,” said John Ballantyne, Brother of Scott.

Ballantyne’s brother and family watched as the plane honoring their loved one flew over Tulare County skies for the first time.

“I used to listen to scanner all the time and i’d hear my brother, and I hear that, he’s still there over looking everything,” said John Ballantyne.

The plane is a part of a revamp of the aviation unit housing two air crafts and eight drones at a total cost of 1.2 million dollars.

“But it’s money that we had, not money that we went and asked for,” said Boudreaux.

The Sheriff says it was paid for by insurance money from last years plane crash and the departments savings.

Ballantyne says it’s money well spent.

“It means a lot, i’m thankful,” said Ballantyne.

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