Aerial Support to Regional Enforcement Agencies

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Coordinates: 32°49′7.65″N 116°58′26.23″W / 32.8187917°N 116.9739528°W / 32.8187917; -116.9739528 ASTREA is an acronym for Aerial Support To Regional Enforcement Agencies, the air support unit of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. ASTREA Base is located at Gillespie Field Airport (IATA: SEEICAO: KSEE) in El Cajon, California.


1972 - ASTREA began operations with three Korean War-era Bell 47G helicopters based at Gillespie Field in El Cajon.

1997 - On February 16, Deputy Patrick "Pat" S. Coyle, 42, died after the ASTREA helicopter in which he and pilot Ron Hobson were flying crashed in Sycamore Canyon, northeast of Santee, California. His death marked the first fatality in the then 25-year history of the sheriff's air support unit.

2003 - Cedar Fire and Paradise Fire

2005 - ASTREA receives two refurbished Bell 205A-1++ "Super Huey" firefighting helicopters. These are the first two aircraft purchased for the new regional fire helicopter program the county started after the October 2003 wildfires. Both are single-engine, medium-lift copters equipped with 375 gallon underbelly water tanks. The helicopters arrived at Gillespie Field after a three-day, 2,000-mile flight from Eagle Copters of Calgary, Canada. They are designated Copter 10 and 12.

2008 - A new Bell 407 is acquired and equipped to support law enforcement and command and control missions.

2009 - ASTREA sells two of its Hughes 500Ds. (ASTREA 2 & 4) These will eventually be replaced with MD530Fs.

2010 - The only MD500E owned by ASTREA is converted to an MD530F, which is better suited for high altitude and hot weather operations.

2015 - ASTREA adds a Bell 407GX to the fleet (N972PC). On September 29, ASTREA receives a third Bell 205A-1. Like the first two, Copter 11 was rebuilt by Eagle Copters and flown from Calgary to El Cajon.


As of 2015, ASTREA's fleet consists of 9 helicopters:

Role Make/Model (Qty) Unit No. Tail No. Serial No. (C/N)
Law Enforcement* Hughes 500D (1) ASTREA 5 N5108E 811075D
MD 530F (3) ASTREA 1 N131TZ 0142FF
ASTREA 3 N150JD 0710FF (was 0545E - Previously "E" Model)
ASTREA 6 N535WK 0138FF
Bell 407 (2) None N958TR 53770
None N972PC 54527
Firefighting/Rescue Bell 205A-1++ (3) ASTREA 10 N449RC 30121
ASTREA 11 N549RL 30215
ASTREA 12 N107BZ 30013
  • The 500 models can be equipped with a Bambi bucket for use in firefighting, while the Bell 205s have 375 gallon belly tanks already installed.


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