Hunter Army Air Field
Date of Commission:
Still in service
United States Coast Guard Air Station Savannah was commissioned in the summer of 1963 on what was then known as Hunter Army Air Force Base, (which became Hunter Army Air Field in 1967). The Air Station was designated the Coast Guard’s first HH-52A Aviation Training unit and was responsible for the training of all CG HH-52A Sea Guard helicopter pilots. Since its commissioning, Air Station Savannah has provided search and rescue (SAR) coverage 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for the Atlantic coast from the northern border of South Carolina to Melbourne Florida. The station averages more than 250 SAR cases a year.
The Air Station’s primary resource for accomplishing our many Coast Guard missions is the HH-65A helicopter. In 1987, the station received four Aerospatiale HH-65A Dolphin helicopters to replace the three aging Sikorsky HH-52A Sea Guards flown since 1963. The HH-65A was a state of the art, all weather, search and rescue platform. It is powered by two Lycoming turbo shaft engines which propel it at a top speed of 165 knots.
In the beginning, all the administrative and operations support for Air Station Savannah came from one small building located on the northwest corner of Hunter Air Force Base. The original structure provided all the office space, the operations center, and the berthing for the crews working and training here. In 1988, a new watch standers berthing building was constructed. It provided overnight accommodations, including bunk rooms, lounges, showers, and cooking facilities for the entire duty crew, as well as spaces for the Reserve Air Unit offices. The Dolphin helicopters were moved into a new 28,000 square foot hangar facility in December of 1990. This new hangar replaced the WW II era building then in use and added needed office & storage space for the station. It also provided enough square footage of work area to house all 4 helicopters with extra room for the 2 new helicopters which arrived in the spring of 1991. These two aircraft brought the station total to 6 and made Air Station Savannah the Coast Guard’s largest "helicopter only" rescue unit. The new Dolphins and 40 additional personnel (for a total of 105) were added to support a new Coast Guard Air Facility located at Charleston Executive Airport on Johns Island, just south of Charleston, SC. The "AIRFAC", as it is commonly known, went on line October 1, 1990. The Air Facility started as a two bedroom, single wide trailer located on the east side of the airport, which was manned every day from dawn to dusk. In the summer of 1993, a new hangar facility complete with engineering bays, berthing for a complete duty crew, morale equipment, and a fully capable operations center was completed. At that time a crew of four was on standby at the facility 24 hours a day. This new Air Facility shortens the response time for performance of SAR cases in the northern parts of the large operating area and enhances the ability to provide service to the large boating population in the Charleston area.
Siler Hall and a new operations center were completed in 1996, providing the Air Station and local commands with a state-of-the-art training venue. In March 2003 the Air Station transitioned to the HH-65B, gaining significant increases in capability due to enhanced avionics and greater payload.
Click here for a Power Point presentation on the history of Air Station Savannah.
Click here for a pdf file with more information and photography on Air Station Savannah.
1941: LT George H. Bowerman
Unless otherwise indicated all photos are official U.S. Coast Guard photographs. Any original caption information is included in the text beneath each photo, along with a date, if known. Click on the thumbnail to access a 300 dpi image.
Original photo caption: "HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga. -- Coast Guard Air Station Savannah played host to many air crews and helicopters that flew security patrols for the G8 Summit."; photo is dated 7 June 2004; photo number 040607-C-6148D-003 (FR); photo by PA3 Ryan Doss, USCG.
Air Station Files, U. S. Coast Guard Historian's Office
Arthur Pearcy. A History of U. S. Coast Guard Aviation. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1989.