Police helicopters are equipped with infrared cameras but that doesn’t mean that they are able to see inside your house.
An infrared camera is only able to detect heat given off an object, which makes it useful when detecting criminal movement and suspecting criminal activities inside a property.
Police helicopters are also equipped with high-quality cameras that work as any other cameras do. This means that a police helicopter is unable to see through walls, floors, roofs, and structures.
The only way a police helicopter can get a good look inside your house or any other property is by flying low enough and getting a clear line of sight through a window. Even then, just drawing the blinds will prevent a police helicopter from looking in!
How Low a Helicopter is Legally Allowed to Fly
According to FAR 91.119, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes:
- Over congested areas: an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft.
- Over other than congested areas: An altitude of 500 feet above the surface. In the case of flying over sparsely populated areas, an aircraft may not operate closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure.
However, helicopters are legally allowed to fly below these altitudes in certain situations if deemed necessary by law enforcement and emergency medical service agencies.
Helen Krasner holds a PPL(A), with 15 years experience flying fixed-wing aircraft; a PPL(H), with 13 years experience flying helicopters; and a CPL(H), Helicopter Instructor Rating, with 12 years working as a helicopter instructor.
Helen is an accomplished aviation writer with 12 years of experience, having authored several books and published numerous articles while also serving as the Editor of the BWPA (British Women Pilots Association) newsletter, with her excellent work having been recognized with her nomination of the “Aviation Journalist of the Year” award.
Helen has won the “Dawn to Dusk” International Flying Competition, along with the best all-female competitors, three times with her copilot.