Hitting a moving target

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Click this photo for a video of helicopter landing and take off training.

Let’s put modesty on hold for a minute and be honest. The U.S. Coast Guard is the best such service in the world. So much so that some of the coast guards of other countries imitate our stripe, our uniform and even our jargon. All this is perfectly okay with us, because even though we have a respectful, working relationship with all these other trained professionals we consider imitation the highest form of flattery. What makes us the best? Well, it’s not a luxurious budget, that’s for sure. I attribute most of our success to vocabulary. We’re the smallest U.S. military service, but we boast the biggest word in our everyday operations: proficiency. Our size actually facilitates this focus. Information, best practices and lessons learned are passed on with blinding efficiency, making our daily operations safer and more effective. The helicopter training pictured above is one example of this. Landing a hovering helicopter onto a moving Coast Guard cutter is a potentially hazardous evolution. Considering some of the pilots conducting the training had never done it before (like the one that flew me out there), that should be even more cause for alarm, but with all the safety nets (literal and figurative) in place and all the experienced operators available for mentorship it makes for a terrific learning environment, even 150 miles from any classroom.


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