Friday, September 23, 2011

Coasties! pt. II

When it comes to branches of the military, some folks forget about the Coast Guard.
Okay, I can see if you live in a place where there's like no coast, but for us here in Hawaii, the orange stripe is a reassuring symbol.
Most of the inshore emergencies are taken care of by the Fire Department or Life Guards, but when you get blown out to sea, knowing the Coast Guard is there and looking for you can be comforting to say the least.
Besides search and rescue, I found out today that they do a lot more to help protect and maintain our waters.
Anyways, the Orange Flying Contraption:

If you like gadgets, buy a helicopter.
It's like gadget heaven.
We talked a bit to the crew and they described what they did and how they do it.
The spinning part thingy:

I'd be checking that thing out like every two seconds.
If I was the pilot that is.
I mean I'd want more than a couple of cotter pins holding my rotors together.
Amazingly, it only spins at 365 rpms.
Hell, I spin faster than that!
Okay, not really.
The helicopter is pretty cramped inside:

Capacity is all figured by weight which includes the amount of fuel on board and figures a crew of four: two pilots, a flight engineer and a rescue swimmer.
Not much room for rescuees.
That's an H65 Dolphin which is used for short range stuff; they got a bigger helicopter for well, bigger jobs.
By the way, we also have a Coast Guard Air Station over at Barber's Point.
So anyways, we looked at some other stuff like communications and a really cool FLIR(forward looking infrared camera, which I was told cost like $12,000!) and some base maintenance folks.
Then after lunch was the show:

They brought in another helicopter to do a simulated water rescue.
The helicopter came in and hovered a couple of hundreds yards away and lowered a rescue swimmer in the water:

I gotta say, the water looked sort of cold and they let him swim around for a bit before sending in his partner.
The other "rescue" guy jumped in while the helicopter hovered at around 15 feet:

Then they hooked them up and pulled them using the harness stuff they showed us earlier.
The swimmers were sort of drifting to my left and the helicopter had to follow so this was the only image I got.
You can see the flight engineer sort of hanging out side working the winch and cable:

The rotor blast or whatever they call it was pretty strong and we were getting some salt spray so I was a bit hesitant to stick my camera out in all that.
I also got a chance to talk to one of the pilots as this was all happening which made it more interesting.
You don't really think about it, but after hovering over the ocean like that, those folks have to come back and clean just about every inch of the helicopter, including the engines, to get all the salt off.
After they picked up the chilled swimmers, the pilot did a couple of flybys and the kids gave them a wave:

Thanks guys!
I would have waved too, but I was taking pictures.
Some folks think of the Coast Guard as like a "lesser" service but let me tell you us folks in Hawaii appreciate all that they do.
Awesome job Coast Guard!
I for one, cannot thank you enough for all that you do.


Steve A said...

You should remember, however, that they got those furrin helicopters from the low bidder. Here in Texas, we're working to restore a good Texas option to the picture when those cotter pins give up the ghost.

In all honesty, the Coast Guard also flies Sikorsky helicopters which are built largely in Connecticut, with hunks also originating in - Dallas.

John Romeo Alpha said...

I was told that the HH-65 is not as well-loved by the pilots as the HH-60 Jayhawk, but mostly to save money the CG went to the Dolphin for a lot of search and rescue. Of course being a military branch they didn't actually save any money. The Dolphin does have an autopilot that will maintain a hover, which is kind of amazing. The movie "The Guardian" had real potential except for the two main actors.

limom said...

I was surprised by how small the Dolphin was.
They had a rescue litter/cage there and I can't imagine how it would be with that thing stuck inside.
In fact, how do they carry that thing?
Cost savings.