Piasecki HRP-1 “Flying Banana”
The Coast Guard acquired three HRP-1 twin-rotor helicopters from the Navy beginning in November 1948. All three helicopters were stationed at Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City along the North Carolina coast. At least one was assigned to the Rotary Wing Development Unit based out of Elizabeth City. Here they participated in numerous experiments, including on-the-water landings with newly invented flotation gear and the testing of various types of hoists, rescue baskets, and rescue harnesses.
Helicopter landings were tested and evaluated on board the USCGC Mackinaw in Buffalo, New York, by CDR Frank Erikson, Commanding Officer the Rotary Wing Development Unit, ’Erickson also participated in flood relief experiments in the Second Coast Guard District in 1949 as well, using HRP CG-111826. The experiments included testing various hoisting methods and equipment at various points along the Mississippi River, beginning in St. Louis, Missouri.
Many of the current Coast Guard helicopter rescue procedures in use today owe their development to Erickson and the HRP experiments he, along with the men of the Coast Guard’s Rotary Wing Development Unit, conducted in 1949 and 1950.