USCG Aircrew Receives Nation’s Highest Award for Heroism in Aviation

On Thursday, the U.S. Coast Guard recognized two SAR helicopter crewmembers with the nation’s highest award for heroism in aviation for their role in a high-stakes rescue during last year’s California wildfire season. 

Pilot Cmdr. Derek Schramel and rescue swimmer PO1 Graham McGinnis received the Distinguished Flying Cross, the same award first granted to pioneering aviator Charles Lindbergh. Their crewmates, Lt.j.g. Adam Ownbey and PO3 Tyler Cook, received the Air Medal, a military award for heroic or meritorious service in flight. 

The medals were in recognition of their role in rescuing two injured firefighters who were unable to evacuate from a burning mountainside in California’s remote Trinity Alps Wilderness. On the night of September 5, 2019, the U. S. Forest Service asked for the Coast Guard’s assistance with the rescue of two injured firefighters.


What’s it’s like to fly an 11,500-pound experimental helicopter (with zero experience)

We’re hovering over the tarmac in a large helicopter. Mark Ward, a former commander in the Coast Guard, is on my left, giving me a brief, real-time lesson in how to fly a chopper?a 5.8-ton, multi-million-dollar flying machine that, incredibly, I get to operate the old-fashioned way.

It’s early September, and the treeline along the Housatonic River by the flight field in Stratford, Connecticut, is still green. The cockpit holds a wealth of screens, switches, buttons, and gauges, but I only need to focus on three key controls: the rudder pedals at my feet, a lever called the collective to my left, and a stick known as the cyclic between my knees.

Those are the basic controls that any helicopter pilot must master, and I?m certainly no pilot. But Ward is. He flew search and rescue HH-60J helicopters before joining Sikorsky, the company that makes the experimental, highly-customized chopper that?s letting us defy gravity right now.


Braving rough seas: An exclusive look inside the Coast Guard’s toughest job

On the banks of Cape Cod, Air Station Cape Cod is home to the Coast Guard’s aviation unit. Rescuers here face it all.  You don’t have to look far to see bold examples of what they do. 

In November of last year, rescue swimmer Mike Kelly battled 20-foot waves off the coast of Maine to save four fishermen who abandoned ship after their boat started taking on water. Kelly admits it’s a tough job.

“It’s hard to become a rescue swimmer and once you do, the job is great,” said Kelly.


Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak Receives First HC-130J in Kodiak

JUNEAU, Alaska ? Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak welcomed the first HC-130J Super Hercules to Kodiak, Alaska, Monday.

Air Station Kodiak is expected to receive five HC-130J model planes by the end of 2019 to replace the five HC-130H model planes currently there.

The HC-130J improves upon the HC-130H with more advanced engines and propellers, which provide a 20 percent increase in speed and altitude, and a 40 percent increase in range over the HC-130H. The new aircraft also features state-of-the-art avionics, including all-glass cockpit displays and improved navigation equipment ? a feature that will aid in Alaska?s unforgiving weather and terrain. The HC-130J?s suite of command, control, communication, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) equipment helps to extend the fleet?s mission capabilities.