The Manual Was for the HU-16 Albatross
The post World War II fiscal retrenchment and the frugality of the Coast Guard resulted in an assortment of previously used aircraft obtained from other services. The operating procedures varied with the aircraft and the Air Station and few of them were in agreement. The accident rate was much lower than might be expected because by today’s standards the aircraft were relatively uncomplicated. The Coast Guard Aviation Plan began the introduction of new aircraft into the service in the early 1960s and for the first time gave direction and continuity to Coast Guard aviation.
During this period, serious doubts were being raised as to the inevitability of aircraft accidents and positive steps toward aircraft accident prevention were initiated. Safety centers were established and a formal course of education for the training of aviation safety officers was developed at the University of Southern California. The Coast Guard established a flight safety billet at headquarters and commenced sending experienced aviators to the USC course. The object was to provide each Air Station with a trained flight safety officer. Commander Marion “Gus” Shrode, USCG, was the Chief, Aviation Safety Branch from 1961-1964. Under his direction, flight safety began to take on meaningful form and commenced its long advance to the present day.
One of the first concerns of the headquarters safety billet was to reduce the pilot factor accidents in the HU-16. There were procedures being utilized, both in and not in the Flight Handbook, that were not desirable but that publication was under Navy control and with all the high performance combat aircraft being used by the Navy the HU-16 was not high on the priority list for revisions. It was decided to evaluate all of the individual unit standard operating procedures and write a Coast Guard standardization manual for the HU-16. There was wide variance in the procedures used at Air Stations resulting in a formation of a six man board composed of experienced officers representative of all areas of Coast Guard aviation. This board brought forth the HU-16 Standardization Manual and a kneepad checklist as well. The board made an additional recommendation that had a profound effect on standardization, flight safety, and the fostering of general professionalism in the ensuing years. They recommended that a training command be established – thus was planted the seed for the current Aviation Training Center.
The HU-16 Standardization Manual was well received and similar procedures were instituted for other Coast Guard aircraft. When the HH-52 was procured, a standard instruction team was established to transition all units. Standardization procedures were entered into the Flight manual for the HH-52 as written by the Coast Guard. Manuals for the C-130 and the HH-3E were similarly adapted in this fashion. The Aviation Training Center in Mobile, Alabama now provides complete training for all operational Coast Guard Aircraft with the exception of the C-130. C-130 training is provided by another military training facility. The concept spread from the Aviation Training Center leading to the establishment of the Aviation Technical Training Center for the technical training of aircrew and maintenance personnel.
The scope and quality of training afforded at both of these establishments has far exceeded their original concepts, and Coast Guard airmen in all categories can now lay claim to the highest rank of competence and professionalism.