By Sarah Meyer, PNT Staff Writer
Residents who live near Eastern New Mexico University may have wondered why a small red, white and blue helicopter was flying so low over their homes Tuesday morning.
The Albuquerque Police Department helicopter wasn’t searching for criminals nor on a search-and-rescue mission, but rather on its way to ENMU. It set down in front of the Campus Union Building at about 10:30 a.m. and lifted off about two hours later.
Two APD patrolmen/pilots flew the helicopter to Portales to speak to Boys State participants and let them look at the aircraft.
Tim Rainey, who has been with the Albuquerque PD for 25 years, and Tim Booth, who has been with the department for 21 years, said they come to Boys State every year to give a presentation on law enforcement and the helicopter.
“They always have good questions,” he said. “They want to know about aerodynamics, air speeds and abilities.”
Booth said the helicopter is used for routine patrol in Albuquerque and assists in felony apprehensions and search and rescue anywhere in the state.
About 110 young high school seniors arrived Sunday at ENMU for the annual event.
Boys State and Girls State are programs of the American Legion, in which young people learn about government through role-playing and hands-on participation.
“It’s a great program,” said Estevan Flores of Las Vegas, who was Boys State governor last year and a counselor this year. “The students make the rules. They run the city and participate in a mock state government. Every position gets filled.”
On Tuesday, the young men were in the midst of a state primary election, Flores said.
“You learn about government, just like in real life,” he said. “Boys State really helped me out a lot.”
Flores said he is going to the University of New Mexico this fall and then plans to attend law school, and enter politics — running for governor, senator and eventually president.
Winston Dorian of Albuquerque, who will be a senior at La Cueva High School, said he is learning about how government works.
Aaron Kunz, also a senior at La Cueva, said he’s learning about the process of government and the various roles in government.
James Blaisure of Estancia said he’s been elected city treasurer and House representative. Now he’s running for state treasurer.
He said he came to Boys State “to learn a lot about politics, meet new people and have a fun time.”
Tommy Fair of Albuquerque, who will be a senior at Menaul High School, said he participated in a National Guard flag ceremony.
“It’s a new experience,” he said. “So far, Boys State is great.”
The organization will hold a banquet tonight. Secretary of State Mary Herrera is the guest speaker.