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Aviation Division

The Aviation Division’s mission is to provide aviation support to operational and intelligence elements within DEA and the law enforcement community to detect, locate, identify, and assess illicit narcotics-related trafficking activities. Aviation support is critical to DEA’s strategic mission of disrupting and dismantling drug trafficking organizations that have a significant impact on America’s illegal drug availability. To accomplish its mission, the Aviation Division employs a fleet of airplanes and helicopters flown by specially trained Special Agent/Pilots.


The aviation program started with a single aircraft in 1971 as part of DEA’s predecessor, the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. By 1973, when DEA was created, the program had grown to 24 aircraft and 41 Special Agent/Pilots overseen by a Chief Pilot. In 1994 it was granted field division status and the Chief Pilot position was converted to a Special Agent-in-Charge. Today, the Aviation Division consists of approximately 135 Special Agent/Pilots and 100 aircraft.

Today’s Aviation Division

The Aviation Division's command and control functions are conducted from the Aviation Operations Center (AOC) located at Alliance Airport in Fort Worth, Texas. The AOC serves as the primary location for aircraft maintenance, flight training for new pilots and as headquarters for its operational support personnel.

The Aviation Division has Special Agents/Pilots and aircraft strategically located throughout the United States, the Caribbean, Central America and South America.

The Aviation Division supports DEA’s enforcement efforts through surveillance, photographic reconnaissance, movement of personnel and cargo and transportation of fugitives and prisoners.

Special Agent/Pilot Careers

Applicants for Special Agent/Pilot positions:

  • Apply, be selected for, and completed DEA Basic Agent Training
  • Meet DEA Grade Requirement (GS-11) 
  • Possess a FAA Private Pilot License
  • Possess a FAA Class II Medical Certificate
  • Pass the Aviation Division Evaluation, Interview and Selection Process
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United States Drug Enforcement Administration DEA.gov is an official site of the U.S. Department of Justice