BAKERSFIELD - Dramatic video shows a risky rescue that turned out to be a local pilot's final flight. For nearly 30 years, he put his life on the line to save others and keep us safe.
Command Pilot Norman Canby retired Wednesday from the Kern County Sheriff's Department. But, his career didn't end quietly. He had one last adventure on his last trip up.
Deputy Brad Brandon slid out of the Sheriff's helicopter Monday in Ridgecrest. As it circled overhead, Brandon's feet dangled in the air.
Command Pilot Norman Canby navigated the helicopter, as Deputy C.J. Martin directed him to a woman trapped in her car, stranded in rising floodwater.
Brandon was lowered down on a rope. As he reached the car, he opened the door. Crews were then able to hoist the woman to safety.
"I love being the pilot of that Air 5 ship when the call comes out and someone is in desperate need," said retired Deputy Pilot Norman Canby. "If you don't get there in a hurry and do something, it could turn out very tragic."
Canby patrolled Kern County from 500 feet. "We don't have to stop at red lights and stop signs up there," he explained. "We nose it down, we pull the power and we get there quick."
Every call is different, from chasing bad guys to search and rescue operations.
"Every time we lift off the ground here at Meadows Field and we go on service or we go to that next search and rescue call, we know our lives are on the line," said Canby. "Anything can happen up there."
For every call, Canby had an unobstructed view to spot criminals or locate hiding suspects.
"It's becoming more and more dangerous every time we go out," he said.
During the summer, Canby flew over the mountains of Kern County and helped narcotics officers bust marijuana grows.
"They're not afraid to shoot it out with the officers. They just don't care. They are ready to take you on," he said.
Canby started in 1978 as a Sheriff's explorer. He was just 17 years old. The Sheriff's Department hired him as a deputy sheriff in 1984.
Canby worked the streets for ten years, before he took a higher calling. "Sheriff Youngblood came to me and said, 'hey we have an opening in the Air Support Unit'," explained Canby. "He had no idea from a little kid, that's always what I wanted to do."
Canby spent 18 years as a pilot in the department. "Every day I look forward to coming to work. I got a smile on my face," explained Canby. "I have guys I got hired with and they're behind the desk and that's just not for me."
After 7,000 hours in the sky, Canby said goodbye Wednesday to the crew he considers family and took off on his next adventure, retirement. "It's just been a tremendous career," he said.
Canby plans to buy a Harley Davidson to travel and spend time with his family.