Joey Jacobs, of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, has been learning to fly helicopters as part of a recreational activity. He decided it was something he wanted to do and began the process of learning as much as he could before actually taking flight.

Debby Schamber – For The Record

When asked about flying, Charles Lindbergh once said, “It is the greatest shot of adrenaline to be doing what you have wanted to be doing so badly. You almost feel like you could fly without the plane.”

Joey Jacobs, of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, doesn’t get his adrenaline rush from flying planes. Instead, he flies helicopters. But, the feeling can be one and the same as he flies at speeds of more than 100 miles per hour and an altitude of 600 to 700 feet.

“I’ve always had a fascination with aviation,” Jacobs said. “One day I decided I was going to do it.”

Jacobs is no stranger to demanding, high energy activities. Jacobs started working in the state prison system in 1994. He joined law enforcement in 1996 as a reserve officer for the Vidor Police Department. In 1997 he was hired by the Governor’s Task Force to work undercover in a high school setting. Only the school superintendent and the principal knew who he really was. To the rest of the school population, he was just another student. For four months he had to maintain his grades and all other high school activities while being part of an investigation.

In 1998, Jacobs became a patrol deputy at the OCSO and worked the west side of the county. He remained there for eight years before being promoted to detective. His career advanced again in 2014 when he was promoted to sergeant over the Mauriceville and Vidor offices. He now supervises cases such as special investigations, crimes against people in addition to his own caseload.

When not working, spending time with his wife of 11 years or his two children, 10 and 8 years old, he likes to take to the skies. Sometimes his family accompanies him on the ride.

“I have always loved helicopters,” Jacobs said.

He explained it is the versatility of the helicopters and the fact they can go anywhere and land just about anywhere which adds to the interest. But, it is not all fun and games, there was a lot of hard work involved leading up to him taking flight. He admits he is still learning daily.

At the Neches Helicopter Training Academy, the very formulated and structured instruction has students on various levels of expertise. Jacobs started more than a year ago reading books before taking his first flight in January.

The small fleet of helicopters at the academy vary in size. The smallest could be compared to a sports car model while the next size may be a luxury car. Of course the largest helicopter is like a limousine. However, the general knowledge needed to fly them is what it takes to get any one of them off the ground.

“It can be challenging, but very rewarding,” Jacobs said.

Before being able to fly, a person must complete some difficult and complex training. There is book work, videos and a flight simulator to be done first. When ready for flight an instructor flies along too. There is also many hours of recorded flight time.

Still, before Jacobs takes flight, he has a long checklist to go through. During this time he thoroughly checks the helicopter to ensure it is ready for flight by checking everything right down to the bolts. Jacobs is especially safety conscious when his son rides along. He must also have a flight plan in place.

Finally, he gets inside, puts on his equipment and starts it up. The motor begins to rev up as the rotors turn. This unique and exhilarating sound is like music to Jacobs’ ears. Then he is ready to take off.

Some may think that flying is the hardest part, but according to Jacobs, hovering is the most challenging. To learn to hover is very essential because a helicopter pilot must hover in order to land. The heat rising from the concrete can make for a bumpy ride too.

Time in the air not only varies because of the destination but also such factors as tailwinds, headwinds and weight onboard. An average trip from Beaumont Municipal Airport to the area of Highway 62 in Buna can take about 14 minutes, according to Jacobs.

It takes a special kind of person to be in law enforcement. In addition, a person has to have a passion to fly helicopters. For Jacobs, he has found his release from the stress and chooses to fly.