Sikorsky HO4S-2G / 3G; “Horse”
Late in 1951, the Coast Guard acquired the Sikorsky HO4S-2G helicopter for search and rescue duty. Seven helicopters were obtained on the initial order. Cruising speed was 80 knots and top speed was 115 knots, ceiling 16,000 feet and range, 400 miles. In 1953 the first of 24 upgraded HO4S-3Gs came aboard. Ten additional HRS (HO4S-3G) were obtained from the Navy .in 1961.
The HO4S helicopters extended the Coast Guard’s rescue capabilities far beyond what was imagined 20 years prior. Although underpowered by today’s standards it was the first operational helicopter capable of carrying multiple survivors in a cabin and carry heavy loads. It had a rescue hoist capable of lifting 400 pounds. It proved, beyond all doubt, the capabilities and value of the helicopter for Coast Guard operations.
They performed numerous rescues during the next decade, some best described as miraculous, within parameters never before achieved. Such was the case when a single HO4S helicopter crew pulled 138 people to safety in 1955 Yuba City California floods. The rescue started in the darkness of early morning of the 24th. The helicopter was “hot fueled” with the engine running. The crew flew continuously for twelve hours, with the two pilots alternating trips. The two crewmembers did the same. All were awarded Distinguished Flying Crosses Many believe that because of this particular rescue the helicopter became the primary asset for the saving of life.