Commissioned on August 29, 1970, Air Station Cape Cod traces its roots back to the 1920s. In its infancy, Coast Guard aviation was conceived as a life-saving arm of the cutter fleet. In 1915 a Curtis flying boat was utilized by the service to explore the possibilities of aerial patrol and rescue. The experiment was so successful, Congress authorized the Coast Guard to establish ten air stations. However, funding was not forthcoming, and the project fell by the wayside.
World War I did allow service aviators at naval air stations to get practical experience in patrol work and operations. An air station was established in 1920 in North Carolina, utilizing flying boats on loan from the Navy. Despite this early success locating distressed mariners, Congress voted no monies for the fledgling air service, and the station was closed in 1921.
The passage of the Volstead Act in 1919 would give the service the boost it needed to get its aviation program airborne. Suppression of liquor smuggling during Prohibition became the major mission of the Coast Guard in the 1920s. CDR Von Paulsen, Coast Guard Aviator number 5, flew a borrowed Navy seaplane on daily patrols from the naval air station at Squantum, MA. The flights proved to be so effective against rum runners that lawmakers appropriated $152,000 for five aircraft.
In May of 1925 three of these seaplanes flew out of Gloucester, MA at Ten Pound Island. This essentially became the Coast Guard's first operational,air station. Two more aircraft were added in 1932 as a result of the success in the law enforcement mission. In addition to its patrol mission, Ten Pound Island became a training facility for pilots and a laboratory for communication between aircraft and ship or shore stations.
Since there was no room to expand the Gloucester base, a new air station was established at Salem, MA in 1935. Boasting state of the art communications and modern repair facilities, it was designed to handle the larger flying boats. In 1941 air crews from Salem began to fly neutrality patrols along the coast, and in November the Coast Guard was transferred to the Department of the Navy. The War years saw the air station roster increase to 37 aircraft, making it the second largest station on the east coast.
On October 21, 1944 Air Station Salem was officially designated as the first US Air-Sea Rescue service on the eastern seaboard. After the war the service found itself with a varied inventory of helicopters, multi-engined patrol planes, and flying boats. With no runways to handle dry landings at Salem, the Coast Guard sought to expand its facilities. In 1950 Air Detachment Quonset Point, Rhode Island was established as a sub unit of Air Station Salem.
During the 1950s the Cosat Guard employed the helicopter with a great deal of success as a rescue platform. With the development of the HH-52A, an amphibious helicopter, the need for a flying boat was lessened. Therefore, air stations having only water landing capabilities, such as Salem, were being phased out.
The Service began to search for a replacement facility, one that could grow with the anticipated new aircraft needed in the future. In 1968 an agreement was reached with the DOD to utilize the Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod as the new home of a Coast Guard air station. Air Station Cape Cod was established on August 29, 1970.
phone numbers: (508)968-1000
address: U.S. Coast Guard, Air Station Cape
Cod, MA 02542-5024
More than 2,000 active duty and family members
family housing units; bachelor barracks (508)968-6506
lodging: 12 townhouses and 21 suites
Support Center: (617)223-3484
elementary schools on base run by Bourne school
Care: Center for 65 children, with wait
care: Clinic. Appointments
(508)968-6582; benefits (508)968-6580
Coast Guard Air Station - Cape Cod, MA
has a small size commissary - ()-,
a medium exchange, and a mini mall (508)563-2495. Recreation at Coast Guard Air Station - Cape Cod, MA
includes arts and crafts, bowling, library, recreation
center, theater, golf, gym, and outdoor activities.