Solemn Virtual Memorial for 1964 Helicopter Crash Victims

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Personnel at the Coast Guard Sector Humboldt Bay have a virtual ceremony on Sector Humboldt Bay’s Facebook page at 8:15 am. The ceremony is in honor of two pilots who made the ultimate sacrifice to save Humboldt county flood victims. On the same day, coast guardsmen have scheduled a moment of silence to honor the CG 1363 crew. The December 1964 storms were some of the fiercest to strike Northern California. The Coast Guard HH-52 helicopter crew passengers lost their lives pursuing rescue attempts of storm victims.

On Dec 22nd, 1964, a helicopter crew from the coast guard air station San Francisco was dispatched to aid in a rescue mission near Humboldt Day in a very severe storm. Onboard the light aircraft was Lt. Cmdr. Donald Prince, Petty Officer 2nd Class James A. Nininger, Royal Canadian Navy Sub-Lt, Allen Alltree, and Royal Canadian Navy Sub-Lt, Allen Alltree.

The three souls on board arrived at the destination at 2:48 pm, where they picked up a resident, Bud Hansen, who volunteered to aid in landmark identification in the low visibility rescue operation.

Throughout that day, the four crew members were responsible for saving ten stranded storm victims’ lives. Rescue operations involved pulling people from rooftops and other flooded areas. In the evening, as the weather got worse, the Arcata Airport Flight Service Station received a radio call from the helicopter. The pilot was trying to find a spot to land the aircraft safely. At this point, the helicopter had three rescued people on board. Due to low visibility and high winds, the pilot was unable to land the bird.

The airport had lost power and was therefore not able to help the pilot navigate the harsh terrain. Shortly after, the airport received a call from a citizen who sighted the aircraft 12 miles north of the airport heading south. Attempts to relay this information to the pilot were sadly unfruitful. The wreckage was discovered three days later by a navy helicopter. A memorial is maintained at the remote wreckage site, 1,130 feet elevation point north of Arcata airport. The crew members will forever be remembered and honored for their noble sacrifice.

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Whenever you are in an emergency, trust Flex Aviation to give you and your loved ones as much dedication as you might desire. Flex Air Aviation has the most qualified and experienced pilots ready to take on helicopter emergency services for you. Our team is highly knowledgeable in multiple spheres of aviation. We offer pilot training, helicopter, and drone, and UAV services. For us, the sky is the limit, and for you, we aim to go an extra nautical mile.

Photo Credit: U. S. Coast Guard