Pc Adrian Pogmore was in tears as he was sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court for filming the married couple from the South Yorkshire Police aircraft and also recording five other people who were sunbathing naked in the county.
Footage shot by Pogmore, 51, and screened in court included graphic scenes of the man and woman having sex in a range of positions on their suburban patio.
Judge Peter Kelson QC heard how the officer, who served for 22 years until he was sacked, knew the couple through a shared interest in the swinging scene.
The court heard that Pogmore was "a swinging and sex-obsessed air observer" who was referred to as the "team deviant" by other members of the air support unit at South Yorkshire Police.
Judge Kelson said: "In short, you used a Â£2 million helicopter which costs something like 1,000 dollars (sic) an hour to run to advance your own sexual curiosities when it should have been detecting crime."
He said: "Instead of deterring and detecting crime, you were committing crime."
The judge said Pogmore's actions were "offensive and invasive" and called him a "rogue police officer".
Judge Kelson said: "So strong were your sexual urges that you were willing to take, and did take, substantial risks of being detected by your colleagues in the helicopter at the time."
He said: "You spied on and recorded these naked people from a height of 1,000ft.
"You, quite literally, considered yourself above the law. Nobody is above the law."
But the judge said he also took into account Pogmore's police service, which included a number of commendations, including for saving the life of an 11-year-old boy.
And he said he understood the huge impact this case had on the officer's family after "something in the region of 15 to 20 minutes of misconduct in a 22-year police career".
The judge said he found it an "immensely difficult" sentencing exercise and said: "I'm as acutely aware as anyone else that without the thin blue line this country would fall into anarchy."
But he said Pogmore's actions have "severely damaged public confidence" in the police and were a "gross abuse of trust".
One woman who was filmed sunbathing with her husband said in a victim personal statement that since she found out about the filming she found it very difficult to deal with the police as she was not sure which officers may have viewed the footage.
She said: "If you can't trust the police, who can you trust?"
Another woman filmed naked without her knowledge told police she felt sick when she saw the footage.
John Ryder QC, defending, told the judge he accepted that there was no culture of misconduct within the air support unit but there was a macho culture he would categorise as "coarse locker room humour rather than anything more sinister".
Mr Ryder said: "It was utterly irresponsible. It was thoughtless and foolish. But it was not motivated by anything more sinister than that."
He said Pogmore and his family had suffered "nothing short of humiliation".
But Mr Ryder added: "It is his fault, he accepts that."
Pogmore, of Guilthwaite Crescent, Whiston, Rotherham, admitted four counts of misconduct in a public office last month relating to four incidents between 2007 and 2012.
Two other police officers and two helicopter pilots were tried and cleared of the same offence after telling a jury that they had no idea what Pogmore was doing with the high-powered camera on board the aircraft.
The case has provided further humiliation for the South Yorkshire force which is still reeling from its failures in the Rotherham child abuse scandal, the continued controversy over the 1989 Hillsborough disaster and the conduct of its investigation into Sir Cliff Richard.
Last year, prosecutors announced Sir Cliff would face no charges and the star is now suing the force and the BBC over the filming of a South Yorkshire Police raid on his home.
This is not the first time a police helicopter crew has found itself under scrutiny for alleged breaches of privacy.
In 2015, a picture tweeted by a police helicopter team showing comedian Michael McIntyre standing in a London street was investigated by the Information Commissioner's Office for a possible breach of data protection laws.