The Coast Guard has used Aircraft throughout its history to accomplish its different missions. Serving in the Coast Guard as an Aviation Officer is an elite job, the Coast Guard is the smallest of the Armed Services, and to serve as a pilot or Aviator in the Coast Guard you have to be at the best of your game. The Coast Guard Officer that entered the Aviation specialty can expect to spend the majority of their time supplying flying skills or actually flying, as there are a limited number of aviation pilots across the Coast Guard Service. Coast Guard Aircraft cover a spectrum of operations from long range fixed wing aircraft that patrol along the International Date line in Alaska, to helicopters operating off of flight deck cutters, there is a broad range of aircraft that works actively in the United States Coast Guard.
Coast Guard pilots fly both fixed and rotary wing aircraft, most of the aircraft in the Coast Guard are in fact helicopters, but there are a number of fixed wing aircraft also that fly in support of the Coast Guard mission. Coast Guard Pilots must be accomplished all weather pilots, as they will be flying in some of the most challenging weather facing aviation pilots anywhere. Coast Guard Pilots fly both propeller driven Fixed wing aircraft, high Speed jet aircraft, and a number of different types of helicopters in support of the missions that the Coast Guard has.
Training for Coast Guard Pilots begins with flight School. Flight Training for a Coast Guard Pilot lasts from 18 to 24 months and covers basic ground school subjects, aircraft systems, academics, sea and land survival, followed by a series of intermediate and primary types of flight training. The Coast Guard Pilot candidate will fly different specialized flight training aircraft including fixed wing basic aircraft. The Candidate will then progress into advanced flight training, involving a number of additional advanced ground school courses as well as helicopter, single engine and multi engine fixed wing training, and flight transitional training.
An officer who is a graduate of the Coast Guard Academy will serve a tour or partial tour at sea before being accepted into flight school training. Much of the training for Coast Guard Aviation is conducted at the Navy Air Command in Pensacola Florida. Officers who pursue training in the Coast Guard as aviators can choose between fixed wing aviation and rotary wing (helicopters) in their flight careers.