Coast Guard air crews to open seasonal air facilities in Michigan, Illinois as Great Lakes boating season officially begins

CLEVELAND — Coast Guardsmen assigned to Coast Guard Air Station Detroit, located at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Mt. Clemons, Michigan, and Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Michigan, are scheduled to begin operations Friday at their seasonal air facilities in Muskegon, Michigan, and Waukegan, Illinois.

Every year, crews staff the AirFacs in order to provide increased search-and-rescue capabilities and faster response times to Lake Michigan during the busy boating season. Both AirFacs traditionally operate from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day.

Crews from Air Station Detroit operate AirFac Muskegon, which is located at Muskegon County Airport, while crews from Air Station Traverse City operate AirFac Waukegan, which is located at the Waukegan Regional Airport north of Chicago. Each AirFac is manned by a pair of four-person air crews and one Dolphin helicopter.

“As the summer boating season begins, we pre-positioning our helicopters and air crews at our seasonal facilities in order to best respond to mariners in distress,” said Cmdr. Joseph Deer, commanding officer of Air Station Detroit. “I strongly encourage all mariners to have a 406 megahertz personal locator beacon on their boat. In the event of an accident where people end up in the water, activating this inexpensive waterproof device provides rapid notification to rescuers and works after being fully submerged, unlike most cell phones and VHF radios.”

“The seasonal air facilities allow our air crews to respond to distress in southern Lake Michigan faster because it eliminates transit time and allows our professional rescuers to get on scene in a timely manner and do what they do best,” said Cmdr. Sean Cross, commanding officer of Air Station Traverse City. “While we want folks to enjoy the Great Lakes. we also want everyone to return home safe. Remember that this region just emerged from the coldest winter in decades. Respect the cold water and take every precaution to extend survival time and improve our chances of finding you quickly. Personal locator beacons, life jackets and protective equipment such as dry suits and wetsuits are a must with current water temperatures in the 30s.”

The opening of the AirFacs on Friday coincides with the conclusion of National Safe Boating Week. The theme of NSBW this year is “Wear it!” The Coast Guard urges all boaters and weak swimmers to always wearing their life jackets in and around water.

To learn more about specific boating safety topics discussed during NSBW click on the following links life jacketsboating under the influencesafety equipmentpaddler safetynavigation rulespersonal locator beacons.

Air Station Traverse City is a year-round Coast Guard facility established in 1946 and located on the southern end of Grand Traverse Bay in northern Michigan. It is staffed with 135 personnel and five Dolphin helicopters. Air Station Detroit is a year-round Coast Guard facility established in 1966 and located approximately 13 miles northeast of the Detroit city limits, on the shores of Lake St. Clair. It is staffed with 115 personnel and five Dolphin helicopters.

Both air stations operate under the direction of the Coast Guard 9th District, headquartered in Cleveland, to provide multi-mission capabilities in the Great Lakes region.

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