The LAPD’s “Freeway Flyer”

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The LAPD’s ‘Freeway Flyer’ program, cars specially equipped for freeway use,  was disbanded when the Highway Patrol took over the freeways through L.A. in 1969. The cars’  lights were made by S&M Lamp Co. LA (Model 757) until 1964, first used in 1951 & standard by 1953, when S&M Lamp Co. went out of business. In ’64, Trio-Sales Co. started making them for LAPD (renamed Model T-2). The lights were red/red until ’64, when rear ambers were introduced. Each T-2 had a separate flasher installed by MTD so that a ‘shop’ would not go out-of-service for a BO amber. Last cars to have the T-2 lights installed were the ’78 Plymouth Fury models.

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Most sirens were the familiar Federal C5GB, B&M S8B-S, or B&M Super Chief. 2. In those days all units were dispatched using an AM signal-1730 Mhz, just off the end of the AM broadcast dial. A good home console radio could be tuned to it. There would be a 39″ stick antenna just out of frame on the left-rear quarter panel for the receiver. Units transmitted with an FM signal in the 155 Mhz range. Because of this there were no tac (tactical) channels for patrol units and every car in the city heard the same dispatch broadcasts. Obviously, this changed very quickly after the Watts riots. The FM transmit antenna was typically a Motorola TU-316, the same one used in the Belvedere days of Adam-12.

About jesswaid

Currently, I write police procedural novels with the stories taking place in Hollywood during the early 1960s; a period when I was a street cop there. I've moved to Mexico to be closer to my hobby of studying Mexican history. My friend and fellow author, Professor Michael Hogan, is my mentor. I am planning to write a three-part epic story that takes place in the mid-nineteenth century. What has inspired me was hearing about Los Ninos Heroes, martyrs of the Battle of Chapultepec. Also, my father was born in Concordia, Mexico and knowing his family history is an added incentive.

11 thoughts on “The LAPD’s “Freeway Flyer”

  1. I was also a ‘freeway flyer” driving a 65 Olds. FT98 on Harbor Fwy. My partner was Dennis Adams, now sgt retired. Glad someone remembers us. Best duty I ever had. After a year I transferred to the harbor TE cars and then left the department after finishing college to the Insurance industry. Now live in Lake Havasu City, Az with lots of great memories and some gory tales to tell. My book, The Valley of the Shadow of Death is on Amazon as an E-book. Good luck down there. Ed

    1. Hello Ed,

      Did you work with or know my father George Surber? He worked the “Freeway Flyers” also. I took dad to the reunion in Nevada several years ago. Were you there?

      Sandra Surber Hoffmeister

      1. Another Flyer was Kenny Trumbower. I partnered with Jake Jollotta. We lost a left rear wheel on the transition road from Harbor SB to 405 WB. After that Ray Wynne, the chief mechanic, had all the wheels reinforced in a heavier gauge.

        1. I remember dad telling me that before his shifts began he checked or tightened the lug nuts. That was probably why!

  2. My father, George Surber, was part of this unit called The Freeway Flyers. The others called him Pappy. Because he was one of the older members of the unit. It was during this time he received a Medal of Valor from LAPD for rescuing a family from a burning car on the Pasadena Freeway.

    Sandra, I rode with your father back in ’62 on the Freeway Flyer.

    1. That is nice to know! I lived with daddy the last 9 years of his life, as he had become legally blind. Sadly, he passed away in 2012, at 91 years of age. His mind was still sharp as a tack. I loved listening to his stories from his days on LAPD.

      1. Sandra,
        I worked with your dad in1969 before I went to motors. A solid guy, a hard worker(after picking up golf balls on the freeway right after roll call), and easy going. I learned a lot from him about high speed driving and investigating those horrendous freeway crashes.

        Paul Craig 11838

        1. Hello Paul! Thanks for sharing your memories and thoughts about my dad. My brother Ron followed in our dad’s footsteps, after going on a couple ride alongs with dad in his patrol car. Ron was on the CHP for nearly 40 years. About 15 of those years on motors in southern CA. My dad wasn’t too happy when Ron went on motors. Even dad thought it was too dangerous! It is good you both survived your time on motors!

          1. Sandra. Survived, yes, but not without the aches and pains of broken bones, arthritis, etc from too many crashes and wrestling an 800 Harley around. But hey, we all came away with some of that. But, I wouldn’t trade it for any other job, not even my time on the freeway flyers. Motors was special. Tremendous camaraderie amongst the guys. Tricks and jokes played against each other never stopped. Glad Ron made it through. I’m now enjoying a life of fishing and hunting in Oregon. God is good. Paul

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