Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater Winds Down From Busy Weekend, Gears Up For Busy Month

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Helicopter and search-plane crews from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater are winding down from a busy weekend along America’s Gulf Coast and gearing up for a stormy September.

A rescue helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater rescued two kayakers, Chris Copenhaver, 19, of Clearwater, and Andrew Kolonick, 19, of St. Petersburg, Fla., from Egmont Key, Fla., Sunday after a Good Samaritan called the Coast Guard and reported them in distress. An HH-60 rescue helicopter arrived on scene at 4:25 p.m. and located the kayakers paddling in the 10-foot surf and 30-knot winds. The helicopter landed, brought the teenaged kayakers aboard and transferred them to Air Station Clearwater at 5:10 p.m. Sunday where they were picked up by a family member. Neither reported any injuries or medical concerns.

Air Station Clearwater pre-deployed one of their rescue helicopters, along with two helicopter crews, to Coast Guard Air Station Mobile, Ala., Friday, in preparation to aid in the response to Hurricane Gustav. After Gustav struck Monday, the crews conducted an aids-to-navigation assessment of the Mississippi Gulf Coast region and logged numerous navigation aids off-station and minor flooding in some coastal areas.

Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater also relocated several of its deployed assets to improve its search and rescue capabilities in preparation for Tropical Storm Hanna, which is currently impacting the Bahamas. Tropical Storms Ike and Josephine are right on Hanna’s tail, and weather experts are predicting a stormy month for Floridians.

“As we reach the peak of hurricane season, Air Station Clearwater’s operational tempo is rapidly increasing as well,” said Lt. Cdr. John Mixson, Air Station Clearwater Public Affairs Officer. “This means that we are using multiple duty crews to increase our search-and-rescue capabilities throughout the Bahamas and Florida’s Gulf Coast region.”

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