By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
Here’s why a Georgia State Patrol helicopter landed at a Forsyth County school
GSP Helicopter at Alliance Academy for Innovation
Students gather around the helicopter on the Alliance Academy for Innovation parking deck, getting a good look at the aircraft before hearing from TFC Nicholas Simpson. - photo by Sabrina Kerns

Students stood on the top floor of the Alliance Academy for Innovation’s parking deck Wednesday afternoon, looking toward the sky before finally seeing a helicopter start to descend to the campus.

“So cool!” one student yelled as the other members of the Alliance Aerospace Association, a club for aerospace students, looked on in amazement as the helicopter finally landed on the other side of the parking deck.

Trooper First Class Nicholas Simpson, with the Georgia State Patrol, flew the helicopter to the school not only to let students have a look at it, but also to give students an idea of what it is like to work in the agency’s aviation division.

Simpson said he started his career in the military, learning how to fly in the U.S. Army after college.

“When I joined the state patrol, I had to spend a little bit of time on the road as a trooper,” Simpson said. “And then after a while, I already had a license and some experience, so I joined the aviation division.”

Comprised of 15 helicopters and a Cessna 182 airplane, the division operates at all times to provide air support to the state patrol and provide public safety to the entire state. They work from six field hangars located in Kennesaw, Albany, Gainesville, Perry, Reidsville and Augusta.

Simpson explained that the division’s main job is to find people, usually for search and rescue missions or to find criminals on the ground. They do this by using infrared cameras that more easily detect people by their body heat.

The division also supports the agency in natural disasters, SWAT missions, fire suppression and more. Simpson said they often help to transport VIP guests like Governor Brian Kemp.

When the pilot gave students a chance to ask questions, their hands instantly shot up. The teens asked about what state patrol aviators are often paid, how much the cost of flying is, what training looks like for pilots and much more.

Simpson answered their questions and offered them some advice:

“Work hard,” he said. “Everybody wants to get to the end of high school or college, something like that, and you’re like, ‘Great, I’m done. I can sit down.’ Don’t stop. Keep working hard until you get to where you want to go. It’s harder to get started again once you stop and take a break after college. Just keep working.”

Before departing, Simpson let the students look inside the helicopter and snap a few photos. As he took to the sky again, the crowd of students waved goodbye from the top of the parking deck.