US Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco
1020 N. Access Road, San Francisco, CA 94128
US Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco is a United States Coast Guard Air Station located 13 miles south of downtown San Francisco, CA – at the San Francisco International Airport. The air station sits adjacent to the airport which consists of its own ramp, one hangar, an administration building and several other support structures.
Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco was completed on February 15, 1941, making it one of the longest tenured tenants at SFO. The air station operated a PBY-5 Catalina and two RD-4 Dolphins. On November 1, 1941 the aircraft and personnel were placed under Navy command where they continued to conduct Search and Rescue and Coastal Patrols through the end of World War II. Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco was also tasked with aiding in the construction of the highly classified and secret Long Range Navigation (LORAN) stations in the North Pacific in 1943. Proving an invaluable asset in this important mission, the San Francisco-based PBY-5 Catalina was instrumental in the completion of the Aleutian LORAN chain by transporting personnel, supplies and building materials.
After World War II, the Air Station resumed normal operations under Coast Guard control after release from the Navy on June 30, 1946. The first helicopter stationed here in San Francisco was the HO3S-1 Dragonfly in 1947. In the early fifties the Grumman HU-16 Albatross replaced the air stations aging World War II fixed wing inventory. This general purpose amphibian, affectionately known as the “Goat”, proved to be a highly adaptable platform for SAR and LE. Eventually, the Air Station received the HH-52A Sea Guard helicopter in 1963 which was a significant improvement over its predecessor with its improved flight characteristics and capabilities.
Also stationed at San Francisco were the C-130s which when they were moved to the newly constructed Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento in 1978, ended 37 years of Coast Guard fixed wing aviation in San Francisco. In 1991, Air Station San Francisco received its first HH-60 J-Hawk to replace the HH-3F Pelican as the medium range Search and Rescue Helicopter. Restructuring in Coast Guard Aviation lead to a short stay of the HH-60 in San Francisco and in June 1996, four HH-65s were moved to San Francisco from San Diego. In the fall of 2001, the Air Station transitioned to the HH-65B, an upgrade in the avionics package. In the spring of 2006, the HH65B was upgraded to the HH65C after the installation of Turbomeca Arriel 2C2-CG engines.
While the airframes have evolved, the primary mission of Air Station San Francisco has remained unchanged for six decades, maritime Search and Rescue along 300 miles of coastline from Point Conception to Fort Bragg. In addition to SAR, Air Station San Francisco has expanded its missions to include Homeland Security, Maritime Law Enforcement, Environmental Protection, Aids to Navigation, Logistics, and Cliff Rescue.
Arriving at US Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco
The Bay area – divided into the North and South Bay – has three major Airports. The largest one – San Francisco International Airport SFO – is located on the South Bay on Highway 101 and I-380, San Bruno.
Oakland International Airport is straight across on the North Bay off I-880 and Hegenberger Road.
San Jose Mineta International SJC is at the east end of the Bay – off Highway 101 and 87.
Frequent South Bay flyers prefer San Jose’s Mineta Airport – the smallest of the three (but by no means small) – as getting to it and to the departure gate is less time-consuming.
Ninety miles to the south is the Monterey Peninsula Airport which serves the Central Coast of California and offers daily flights to San Francisco International.