Seen Helicopters at night with SEARCH Lights?

By: Diane Benjamin

I was notified by a reader who lives in the Ewing Park area that very frequently multiple helicopters are flying over his house after dark, sometimes using search lights. The reader had asked the Bloomington police, they didn’t know who was flying.

The National Guard out of Peoria does training from CIRA, I frequently see them during the day over my house. I’ve never heard them flying at night however.

I sent a FOIA to CIRA since I thought they might know who is using the air space. I still don’t know any more than I did before from their response. Have you seen them?

I asked the Peoria National Guard, if they respond I will update this story.

10 thoughts on “Seen Helicopters at night with SEARCH Lights?

  1. Many aircraft can be tracked using a website like FlightRadar24, if it is equipped with a transponder. Not all aircraft are required to have a transponder. Operating in Class D airspace, which KBMI falls into, a transponder is not required. The helicopter in question does not show up on the tracking website for the dates and times mentioned.

    However, all aircraft inside the Class D airspace, must be in radio contact with the Tower. So if someone was interested (I’m not) in going to and listening to the archive tower communication (available for 30 days). At the very least, you should be able to obtain the N-Number of the aircraft, and use that to look up the owner.

    1. I also should have mentioned that filing a flight plan is not required in many cases. Aircraft that will be flying above 18,000 ft require IFR, and IFR requires a flight plan.

      Small airports and uncontrolled space, many fly VFR and do not require a flight plan except very specific scenarios.

  2. The comment re flight radar is correct. They frequently fly over and appear to have search lights. They are life flight helicopters. Usually flying Bloomington to Peoria or Champaign.

  3. I live just north of that arera. It’s the helicopter flying to a from Carle. I’ve never heard more than one. However, it is quite loud, and Carle seems to be making multiple trips per day.

    After Carle took over Bromenn, the helicopter usage increased exponentially.

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