TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — With hundreds of thousands of people expected for Saturday’s invasion, law enforcement agencies are making sure everyone stays safe.

For Tampa Police, it is crucial to have eyes in the sky on Gasparilla. News Channel 8 went to Tampa Police Department’s hangar for an inside look at how the agency will be patrolling from the air.

The agency’s helicopter will be in the air starting at 9 a.m. Saturday to monitor the flotilla and parade route. Tampa Police Aviation Unit is equipped with several cameras including, a color camera, spotter scope, and a thermal camera.

Two people will be in the helicopter, including the pilot and a tactical flight officer who will operate the camera systems, radio, and mapping systems. Chief pilot, Chris Shepherd, said communication is key for a large event like Gasparilla.

“We’re going to be looking for any boats that are in distress,” said Shepherd. “Anyone could’ve fallen overboard during the flotilla as it moves into the channel and throughout the parade. We’re constantly monitoring the crowds and trying to direct you need to where they’re most appropriate, so we have teams of officers in the correct areas.”

Shepherd said it can be a challenge, but having an aerial view allows authorities to see the whole picture.

“We have meetings about it we monitor any intelligence that is available as far as any possible threats that there are and those are key pieces of information that we use so we’re aviation assets in the appropriate location,” he said.

Tampa police work closely with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the Coast Guard as well as other agencies to make sure it’s a fun and safe event for all who attend.

You can watch our coverage of the pirate invasion and parade online and on air. Coverage of the invasion will begin on WFLA Now at 11:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28. The Parade of Pirates will be broadcast on News Channel 8 at 2:30 p.m.