Saturday, November 7, 2009

U.S. Coast Guard to the rescue: CG UH-60's crew tackles the tough jobs

In 1976, the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station moved from Albert Whitted Airport in St. Petersburg to St. Petersburg/ Clearwater International Airport. It is the Coast Guard's largest air station with an expanded drug interdiction mission. This large ongoing mission resulted in the assignment of 12 HH-60J Jayhawk helicopters, the newest in the Coast Guard fleet, and boosted personnel strength at the base to its current level of over 500 men and women. The Sikorsky-built Jayhawks have search/weather radar, and can be equipped with a Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) turret that provides excellent night vision. (The U.S. Air Force and Army also operate versions of this helo.) They also fly the HC-130s stationed at the base. Their motto: "ANYTIME, ANYWHERE."

This U.S. Coast Guard helicopter was just one of the many interesting flying machines on display for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association annual conference held over the last three days in Tampa. Boaters know them well and always welcome the sight of these helos and their brave crews whenever there is trouble on the waters of the Gulf and around the Tampa Bay area. I sat in the pilot’s seat and spent some time talking with the fine crew who flew it over from the base across the bay. The young, well-trained and brave crew perform some of the most difficult and dangerous missions that we ask of our military. And they serve proudly.


  1. The Coast Guard does some magnificent work; often unsung. This is one tough looking, but beautiful machine!

  2. Chopper flying on this type of mission must be pretty demanding but also rewarding; neat looking piece of kit.