The Museum of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City has now opened "Out of the Blue: Coast Guard Aviation," an exhibit honoring the nation’s maritime guardians.
The exhibit navigates two centuries of U.S. Coast Guard history from its 1790 beginnings to its aviation presence in northeastern North Carolina today.
“This is a great day for Elizabeth City, the Museum of the Albemarle and the U.S. Coast Guard,” said Museum of the Albemarle Administrator Ed Merrell at the opening of the exhibit earlier this month. “This exhibit will help people understand what these men and women do every day, laying their lives on the line.”
Creators say the exhibit utilizes historic photographs, artifacts, interactive exhibits and a unique display of timelines, and that is provides a "thoughtful look at U.S. Coast Guard history, with an emphasis on aviation and special concentration on Air Station Elizabeth City."
"Out of the Blue: Coast Guard Aviation" can be seen through 2014 at the Museum of the Albemarle.
The museum is located at 501 South Water Street in Elizabeth City.
Admission is free. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays from 2 to 5 p.m.
For information, call (252) 335-1453.
The origins of the U.S. Coast Guard date to Aug. 4, 1790, when Congress authorized the construction of 10 sea-going vessels to enforce tariff and trade laws and to prevent smuggling.
Soon after, the service became known as the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service. The U.S. Coast Guard received its present name in 1915, when the Revenue Cutter Service merged with the U.S. Life Saving Service, making a single maritime service dedicated to saving life at sea and enforcing the nation’s maritime laws.
Soon after Wilbur and Orville Wright made aviation history in Kitty Hawk, the Coast Guard embraced the use of aviation. Posted on the wing flap of a C-130 is a timeline of fixed wing aviation from 1915 to 1956. Photographs of numerous aviation pioneers are featured, including Coast Guard Aviator #1 Elmer Stone, a founder of the Coast Guard aviation program and a pilot aboard the first transatlantic flight of any aircraft in 1919.
The blade of a Sikorsky H-60 Jayhawk helicopter carries the story of rotary wing aviation from 1957 to 1994. Exhibit-goers will see such search and rescue artifacts as a rescue basket, survival barrel, cargo parachute and a mannequin outfitted in a rescue diver’s suit.
A life raft on the center of the exhibit floor is a focal point for kids, who may climb inside to watch real-life rescue videos. It was used in the 2006 motion picture, “The Guardian,” portions of which were filmed in Elizabeth City.
And then there’s “Jay,” a one-third scale replica of an H-60 Jayhawk helicopter. The whimsical, cartoon-like chopper, designed by Elizabeth City artist and retired Coast Guardsman Doug Lane, features a number of fun “learn-by-doing” tasks. Kids can push a button to operate the tail rotor and hoist items to safety using a life basket.
Also of note are mannequins outfitted in Coast Guard dress for specific operations related to the Elizabeth City base, and a large flip book with descriptions, patches and photographs of the active U.S. Coast Guard stations, from Kodiak Island, Alaska, to Elizabeth City.