Air Station Corpus Christi celebrates aviation milestone

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Coast Guard Air Station Corpus Christi celebrated 30 years of service by the HU-25 Falcon jet, Wednesday.

Crewmembers from Air Station Corpus Christi celebrated the Falcon’s milestone with a day of celebration including a softball game, barbecue lunch and a cake cutting ceremony.  The lunch and cake were provided with funds donated by the Coast Guard Aviation Association, known as the Pterodactyls.

The cake was cut by Petty Officer 3rd Class Thomas McCall and Chief Petty Officer Blaine Lee, the youngest and oldest Falcon crewmembers at Air Station Corpus Christi.

The Coast Guard was scheduled to hold an official ceremony on Friday, May 25 in Mobile, Ala.

The Falcon has previously flown from units located in Astoria, Ore.; Borinquen, Puerto Rico; Miami; San Diego; Sacramento, Calif.; and Traverse City, Mich.

The Falcon remains operational in Cape Cod, Mass., and Corpus Christi, Texas. They also continue to provide logistical support out of Elizabeth City, N.C., and the Standardization Team is based at the Coast Guard Aviation Training Center, Mobile, Ala.

“Flying the Falcon is the culmination of a lifelong dream to be a jet aviator and fly the Coast Guard’s fastest operational asset,” said Lt. Cmdr. Lahcen Armstrong. “I’d like to see it fly for another 30 years.”

Below is a brief history of the Falcon.

• After evaluating more than 30 different aircraft, Secretary of Transportation William T. Coleman, Jr., and Adm. William Siler, commandant, announced on Jan. 5, 1977, the award of a contract for the purchase of the Falcons.

• The first Falcon was delivered to the Coast Guard on Feb. 19, 1982. The Coast Guard received forty-one airframes to replace the HU-16 Albatross and C-131 Samaritan.

• Through the years, there have been four variations of the Falcon. All were equipped with large search windows and a hatch which could be used to deliver life rafts, dewatering pumps, or other equipment to mariners in distress.

• The HU-25B was equipped with the Aireye system, used for mapping pollution on the water. Two aircraft from Cape Cod, equipped with the Aireye system, deployed to Bahrain during the first Gulf War in 1991 in response to the oil pollution in the Persian Gulf.

• The HU-25C and HU-25D are both equipped with high resolution image sensors and infra-red cameras to help search for missing boats.

• The Falcon also commonly flies on emergency medical transport missions.

• On Jan. 2, 1986, a baby was delivered in-flight aboard a Falcon at 12,000 feet during a medevac from Alpena to Traverse City, Mich.

• With a maximum air speed of 380 knots, it is the only operational jet aircraft in the Coast Guard inventory.

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