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U.S. Coast Guard Aviation History


A photo of the first Coast Guard aviation group, circa 1916

"The Class of 1916"
The first Coast Guard aviation personnel, 22 March 1917.



HC-144 in flightGeneral Coast Guard Aviation History:

Fixed-Wing Aviation:

"The Coast Guard Flies to the Rescue: Salem Air Station, Where Lieutenant Commander F. A. Leamy Commands, Does Some Great Work," an article from the April, 1937 issue of the Coast Guard Magazine (Volume 10, No. 6, pp. 3, 30-31) that describes in detail a 1937 rescue at sea by a seaplane from Air Station Salem.

"The Seaplane in the U.S. Coast Guard," a paper presented at the SAE National Aeronautic Meeting, New York City, 16 April 1951, by Captain Donald B. MacDiarmid.

Rotary-Wing Aviation:

"The Helicopter in Rescue," by Captain Woodrow W. Vennel, USCG, an article published in Proceedings of the Merchant Marine Council (Volume 18, No. 2; February, 1961, pp. 24-28).

"Despair and Visions: The Birth of the Rescue Helicopter", an article by Lieutenant Commander Barrett T. Beard, USCG (Ret.)

"History of Coast Guard Rotary-Wing Aviation: From Inception to the Modern Day": an article by First Lieutenant Andrew Conwell, USAF

"The Eyes and Ears of the Convoy: The Coast Guard's Development of the Helicopter as an Anti-Submarine Weapon During World War II," an article describing the Service's early rotary-wing history by Robert Browning.

Pilots & Aircrews:

"Elmer F. Stone '13 and the Pioneering Role of Coast Guard Academy Graduates in Early Naval and Coast Guard Aviation" by William Thiesen.

Coast Guard Enlisted "Aviation Pilots."

Coast Guard Aviators That Did Not Return: a list of Coast Guard aircrews killed in the line of duty.

"Cap'm Mac And Flying Coffins: Captain Donald B. MacDiarmid, USCG," an article by LCDR Barrett T. Beard, USCG (Ret.) about Captain D. B. MacDiarmid and his pioneering role in developing the use of seaplanes for Coast Guard use.

"Best Shot": Coast Guard Surfman Gerrett Gregory, who joined the service in 1938, transferred to aviation and flew in Coast Guard seaplanes.  He wrote a first-hand account of one of the rescues he participated in while serving as a crewman of a Coast Guard Martin PBM.

Rescue Swimmer Program:

Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers: A History by LCDR Richard M. Wright, USCG (Ret.): a detailed history of the development of the Rescue Swimmer program.

A History of SARWET: the precursor to the Rescue Swimmer program, written by CDR Bill Thrall, USCG (Ret.).  CDR Thrall noted that "SARWET pre-dated the Rescue Swimmer Program by 13-plus years.  It ran successfully out of San Francisco for almost 6 years. . .Rescues were made, lives saved and medals awarded.  It was real."

Miscellaneous:

CGC Boutwell's aviation detachment from AIRSTA Barber's Point off Iraq in March of 2003



Biographies of Famous Coast Guard Aviators & Aviation Crewmen:

A photo of helicopter pioneer and Coast Guard officer Frank Erickson at his desk

Elmer F. Stone
Benjamin A. Bottoms
Richard Burke
Frank A. Erickson
David Gershowitz
Stewart Graham
William J. Kossler
Donald B. MacDiarmid
John A. Pritchard
Jack Rittichier
Victor V. Utgoff
Carl C. Von Paulsen
Bobby C. Wilks



Coast Guard Aviators' Oral Histories & First-Person Accounts:



Accounts & Documentation of Historic Rescues, Flights, and/or Operations:

"Superpower Rescue": the rescue of the crew of the Soviet M/V Komsomolets Kirgizii in March, 1987.  This rescue garnered significant international (and Presidential) attention.

"27 Hours in the Cold Alaska Sea." AD1 Greg King writes about the rescue of the crew of the fishing vessel Clover Leaf in April, 1980 while serving as an HC-130 crewman based at AIRSTA Kodiak.

"Cosmic Air": a pictorial history of the Coast Guard's efforts to resupply the far-flung chain of LORAN stations in the Pacific via Coast Guard aircraft.

A Summary of Action" for a SAR case in 1978 when HC-130H CGNR-1500 assisted in the rescue off Alaska of the crew of a ditched Navy P-3C (BuNo. 159892) on 26 October 1978.  A Soviet trawler, the Mys Sinyavin, also participated, making this a unique case of cooperation by the principal antagonists of the Cold War.   Coast Guard aircraft on the tarmac

"Out of Gas at 9,000 Feet and Lost in the Bahamas."  AD2 Greg King writes about a SAR case conducted during Hurricane Dorothy in 1977 while serving as a crewman aboard HC-130 CG-1414.

"The Helicopter in Rescue," by Captain Woodrow W. Vennel, USCG, an article published in Proceedings of the Merchant Marine Council (Volume 18, No. 2; February, 1961, pp. 24-28).

"The Inauguration of the Coast Guard's Only Air-Land Rescue Unit at CGAS Port Angeles: The Rescue of the Crew of a Navy Bomber" in 1945 by Coast Guard Archivist Ms. Nora Chidlow.

"The Coast Guard Flies to the Rescue: Salem Air Station, Where Lieutenant Commander F. A. Leamy Commands, Does Some Great Work," an article from the April, 1937 issue of the Coast Guard Magazine (Volume 10, No. 6, pp. 3, 30-31) that describes in detail a 1937 rescue at sea by a seaplane from Air Station Salem.

"LCDR Edward 'Iceberg' Smith, '13, and the 1931 Arctic Expedition of the German Airship Graf Zeppelin," an article by William H. Thiesen as published in the April 2010 issue of the Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association's publication The Bulletin, pp. 58-62.


 

Historic Documents, Regulations, Flight Manuals & Other Professional Aviation-Related Publications:
 

1916: The letter that began the Coast Guard's long association with aviation, written by First Lieutenant Benjamin Chiswell, commanding CGC Onondaga, dated 18 April 1916.

1936: Aviation Instructions, U.S. Coast Guard

1936: Insignia and Marking for Aircraft in the United States Coast Guard (Treasury Department, Washington, USA, 1936).

1945: Consolidated Vultee PB4Y-2 Bombardment Airplane Flight Manual

1945: Consolidated Vultee PBY-5A Navy Model Pilot's Handbook of Flight Operating Instructions, (AN 01-5MA-1).

1952: The U.S. Navy's Helicopter Training Manual, (NAVAIER 00-80T-41).

1955: Aircraft Emergency Procedures Over Water, (CG-306).

1955: Martin P5M-2 Aircraft (Navy Model) Flight Handbook, (Revised 15 December 1956; AN 01-35EJB-1).

1961: United States Coast Guard Standard Aircraft Characteristics (CG-332); 4 August 1961.

1961: Convair C-131A Flight Manual (Changed 25 September 1962; TO 1C-131A-1)

Sikorsky HH-52A Flight Handbook & Standardization Manual; 1963 (Amended 1971, CG-384-1)

1968: "[Report of] Helicopter Deployment Aboard CGC DALLAS (WHEC 716)," report by CO, USCG Air Station Brooklyn, dated 7 August 1968, covering HH52A CGNR 1443's deployment.

1968: "Coast Guard Aircraft Painting and Marking Details," (dated 18 September 1968; Public Information Division publication).


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Last Modified 11/17/2014