All nine of the agency's helicopters are more than 30 years old. The Highway Patrol got them free of charge from the military. The pilots said the aircraft are not modern enough to rescue people during hurricanes or floods.
Sen. Martin Nesbitt, D-Buncombe, is proposing a bill that would buy four brand-new helicopters. The total package would cost $16.7 million over two years.
Nesbitt is considering a $1 fee on driver's licenses to pay for the choppers.
Ironically, the Highway Patrol does not officially support the plan at this time because Gov. Mike Easley did not include it in his proposed budget.
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