A desire to repay law enforcement personnel for protecting the public guided a New Hampshire pilot to recognize their community service by inviting them for general aviation discovery flights in an aerobatic Pitts S–2C biplane.
Commercial and aerobatic pilot Brian Beaudry said he felt that he “had to do something” when he saw antagonism toward police securing the front lines during racial justice protests. “I’m just one person, but I have a cool airplane, and I wondered if they would be willing to go up with me” to escape their stressful routine for a short while. He posted the free opportunity on social media and was pleasantly surprised when calls began to roll in. After a bit of brainstorming with friends, the name Props for Cops popped into his head and the Hampton Airfield-based outreach launched.
The purpose of the outreach “is to give something back to them,” and to document the joy of their flight with photos and videos that can be shared among friends and relatives. “I think it’s what people are longing for,” said Beaudry, who has been involved in aviation for 30 years, beginning as a teenager.
“This is a 360-degree win,” said the aerobatic pilot and instructor who pals around with his college roommate, best friend, and nine-time U.S. National Aerobatic Champion Rob Holland. “Aviation wins, local news organizations win, and cops win,” Beaudry explained. “I only see benefits associated with this.”
He recently took a police chief and a detective for flights that included aileron rolls, point rolls, hammerheads, loops, and a few other basic aerobatic maneuvers. “The chief did everything, but the detective was more into a scenic flight. The bottom line is that they all come down really happy because they’ve done a bucket-list item.”
Beaudry has given more than a dozen aerobatic rides so far, with more on the books during the weeks ahead when he’s not on a far-flung corporate flying mission.
Though the flights are free, there are plans to market T-shirts, hats, and other merchandise to help defray some of the costs associated with operating a high-performance aerobatic airplane. “All proceeds will go back into giving these rides because it’s not cheap to operate” the Pitts, he confided.
Beaudry said he hopes others will open their arms for law enforcement personnel, too. “If you have a golf course and can offer a free round or own a boat and can give a ride—do it. If you have a race car and can go around a track with them—do it,” he encouraged. “That’s how we can get the word out to support law enforcement personnel and to share it. If people see positive imagery it will, without question, combat some of the negativity” associated with police altercations during street protests for racial justice.
“I think people are somewhat starved for good news,” he said. “Of course, I enjoy promoting aviation because it’s what I’ve done since I was 16. Anything that can highlight aviation and get people motivated is good for the aviation community as a whole. Hopefully it inspires other people to do what they can do in their own community.”