The U.S. Coast Guard's motto is "Semper Paratus" which means "Always Ready". The Coast Guard is tasked with a variety of missions including homeland security, law enforcement, search and rescue, marine environmental pollution response, national defense, and maintenance of river, intercoastal and offshore aids to navigation.
Coast Guard aircraft play a vital role in accomplishing these missions and Coast Guard helicopters and helicopter pilots add additional flexibility. As a Coast Guard helicopter pilot you'll fly one of the following three helicopters.
The HH-65 Dauphin, built by Aerospatiale Helicopter Corporation, is the Coast Guard’s short-range recovery rescue helicopter. Coast Guard helicopter pilots who fly the HH-65 participate in a wide variety of missions most notably drug interdiction, homeland security patrols, pollution control, search and rescue, law enforcement, re-supply, and ice breaking.
The HH-65 can be land based or based on board Coast Guard cutters. One facet of the Dauphin that makes it unique is its fenestron tail rotor which is a tail rotor totally enclosed within the fuselage of the helicopter. This type of tail rotor provides a greater margin of safety for personnel when on the ground, reduced noise, and less vulnerability to foreign object damage.
The HH-65 also has a very capable auto pilot that is able to automatically make a completely hands off approach to the water and establish a 50ft hover. Coast Guard pilots can also program it to fly programmed search patterns which allows the crew to take a more active role in the search. The Dauphin has a crew of four. Two pilots, a flight mechanic, and a rescue swimmer.
The HH-60 Jay Hawk, built by Sikorsky Helicopter, is the Coast Guard’s medium range search and rescue helicopter. Like the Dauphin, Jay Hawk pilots perform a wide variety of missions but unlike the Dauphin, the Jay Hawk does not deploy on Coast Guard Cutters, though it does retain the capability.
The Jay Hawk has a flight endurance of six hours and 30 minutes allowing it to remain at the scene of a rescue or other event for an extended period. The Jay Hawk has a crew of four. Two pilots, a flight mechanic and a rescue swimmer.
The last helicopter available to Coast Guard helicopter pilots is the MH-68A Sting Ray, built by Augusta. The Sting Ray is the Coast Guard’s all weather, short range, armed interdiction helicopter. The primary role of the Sting Ray is maritime drug interdiction and homeland security.
A special unit within the US Coast Guard called the Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) flies the Sting Ray. The HITRON is the only US law enforcement agency trained and authorized to employ airborne use of force. HITRON’s original mission was to interdict drug smugglers. Their mission has been expanded to include homeland security putting them on the front lines of the war on drugs and the expanding war on terrorism. The MH-68 has a crew of three. Two pilots and a crewman/gunner.
Coast Guard helicopter pilots have a very exciting and fulfilling career. fulfilling. If you have a strong desire to fly and to serve others, consider a career as a Coast Guard helicopter pilot.
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