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Amid the Aviation Action

Stefanie Senkow
August 13, 2021

1/c Clare BrinkmanNEW LONDON, Conn – Aviation interns get taken to new heights at the Coast Guard Academy. Aspiring aviator First Class Cadet (1/c) Clare Brinkman was assigned to Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater for part of her summer. After getting qualified as an Operations Duty Officer (ODO), she soared into action.

“I kept radio communications with the aircraft, answered calls from sectors, air stations, auxiliary members, and small boat stations. If there was a search and rescue (SAR) case that we were notified about, I oversaw launching the aircraft and keeping the Operations Officer in the loop,” said Brinkman.

Assisting with a life-saving SAR mission is just one way Brinkman was challenged.

“There were times when it would get very hectic with a SAR case and both my fellow intern and I would take a moment to breathe before continuing. There was so much to do, and we had people calling on three separate phones at the same time,” said Brinkman.

As ODO, Brinkman built confidence in her ability to support Air Station Clearwater.

“The pilots trusted me to oversee getting all the information for the SAR cases. It tested my skills to be both professional and personable as we had to give briefs, talk to many people on the phone, and give the pilots the proper information efficiently,” said Brinkman.

While her performance expectations were set high, the heights Brinkman experienced while flying in a Coast Guard aircraft were even more exhilarating.

“The first flight I was on was a MH-60 flight with the commanding officer of the air station! We were also with a swimmer that day and so we watched him jump out of the helicopter and practice rescuing a person in the water,” said Brinkman. “We sat close to the edge of the aircraft with the side door opened and saw some really cool sights. After that was a C-130 flight that involved dropping supplies to a boat out the back of the aircraft. Having the back door open like that was awesome! I got some time up front on the sticks and was able to sit on the edge of the ramp in the back of the C-130 as well.”

“This internship opened my eyes to the day in the life of a pilot and gave me insight into the two years of flight school. I have soaked all this information up like a sponge and it has made me very excited to be in the Coast Guard,” said Brinkman.

Find out how to get on track for a Coast Guard aviation career.