A Project of the Coast Guard Aviation Association

The Chronological History of Coast Guard Aviation


The Chronological History of Coast Guard Aviation is a testimony to the evolution and achievements of Coast Guard Aviation as it prepares to complete its first 100 years of service. This work is designed to actively contribute to the enlargement and perpetuation of the history of Coast Guard Aviation and the recognition thereof, both internally and in areas external to the service. It highlights the significant events and developments that shaped Coast Guard Aviation from 1915 through 2015.

The Coast Guard was established on 28 January 1915 and Coast Guard Aviation came into being the following year. Coast Guard Aviation has undergone immense change during the ensuing years. Once an adjunct to the service, it is now fully integrated and plays a defining role in the activities and structure of the Coast Guard. The past developments, as chronicled in this timeline, serve as a prologue to future developments of Coast Guard Aviation and the Coast Guard as a whole

This History was undertaken by the Order of Pterodactyl History Committee which was formed in January of 2003.  The Order is now known as the Coast Guard Aviation Association. The project, under the direction of Pterodactyl member John Bear Moseley gave impetus to the gathering, preserving, storing and providing ready access to the past and unfolding of Coast Guard Aviation. The Coast Guard, in constant budget crisis, had never adequately funded the gathering, preservation, and promulgation of its history. Time was of an essence as it was realized that a good portion of the history would soon pass away with those who had made it.

This presentation is a chronological digest. It is designed to fully facilitate interactive presentations as well as complete or partial electronic reproduction for individual objectives. Although not a detailed treatise of all aspects of Coast Guard Aviation it is a definitive history. The work prints out to 518 pages and contains 589 photo images. Accuracy and definitive coverage of events and developments were paramount. In the beginning of the project it was recognized that a drawback of chronologies as a form of exposition stems from the fact that they record, or chronicle, events with no attempt at explanation. This chronology departs from that form, particularly for specific events and periods which are instrumental in the development of Coast Guard Aviation.

Compiling this reference work encompassed over 8,900 hours of research and editing. One of the most difficult tasks was to condense a vast amount of information from multiple sources to fit the format, remain definitive, and be written so as to be comprehended by all. Of extreme importance were the people, 258 in number, who had lived and made the history.  They provided their experiences and photographs and gave vital assistance in the development of the Timeline.

During the rapid growth of Coast Guard Aviation, from 1943 through the 1960s, Search and Rescue was the catalyst that made it happen.  This is addressed, but due to the vastness of the subject matter, specific SAR cases are included only when they illustrate procedures in effect or changes that took place. The SAR exploits of the U. S. Coast Guard are absolutely amazing and at times unbelievable. To do the subject justice a book dedicated solely to these achievements would be required.

The contents of The Chronological History of Coast Guard Aviation may be duplicated for personal use. Each chronological narrative is a complete story within itself.  If duplication is desired for other purposes, credit is to be given to the Coast Guard Aviation Association. If it is to be used for commercial purposes, prior permission to do so must be obtained from the Coast Guard Aviation Association


John “Bear” Moseley
CGAA Historian