DPS pilot named employee of the year

His expertise in training other police pilots in use of night-vision goggles has earned a Kingman man state recognition as employee of the year.

Arizona Department of Public Safety pilot Terry Miyauchi has been named employee of the year for the department's aviation section.

"Through his instruction in night physiology and night vision goggle care and use, pilot Miyauchi has brought valuable and current information to many airborne law enforcement agencies," DPS senior pilot Mike Mickelson wrote to state officers in recommending Miyauchi for the honor.

Miyauchi has been with DPS for six years, serving as a patrol officer in Williams for a year before transferring into the aviation section in Kingman.

Growing up in Boise, Idaho, Miyauchi earned his private pilot's license right out of high school before joining the Army.

It was in the military serving stateside and in Germany where he started flying helicopters and eventually became an instructor in night-vision goggles.

"The missions in helicopters are more interesting than in planes," he said.

As he has with other agencies, Miyauchi will train helicopter pilots with the Mesa Police Department next week in the use of night-vision goggles.

Nighttime medical calls, especially when a child is injured in a traffic accident, stand out for Miyauchi.

"The kids are the ones I remember the most," he said.

"When they become the innocent victims in an accident."

About 50 percent of Miyauchi's missions are medical.

DPS pilots transport blood and medical supplies from Phoenix or Las Vegas to Mohave County hospitals, Miyauchi said.

About 20 percent of DPS missions are in support of law enforcement, which include pursuit and surveillance.

Miyauchi also is called out for search and rescue of hikers.

He has swift-water and rappelling training.

"What I like the most is the wide variety of missions," Miyauchi said.

"You're not doing just one thing.

You work for all the different agencies.

This type of job is the pinnacle for aviation "

Several years ago, Miyauchi helped rescue a local motorist whose pickup became stuck in raging waters of Mohave Wash during a monsoon storm.

A paramedic, dangling from the helicopter's skid, plucked the man from the top of his truck barely seen in the raging waters as Miyauchi maneuvered the helicopter just inches off the water.

"Missions like that is why this is so rewarding," he said.

Miyauchi flew NASA officials around the area looking for debris from the Columbia space shuttle explosion.

He also has flown with the Bambi bucket, a bright orange water bucket used to douse brush fires.

He emphasized that DPS pilots support law enforcement, medical or search and rescue agencies.

"We're simply a cog in the whole thing," he said.