The Mystery Airplane Contest


Courtesy Tom Lymburn

EADS/CASA HC-144A Ocean Sentry

CASA or Construcciones Aeronauticas SA was formed in 1923 and became Spain's main aircraft company. It license-built aircraft from Dornier, Breguet, Vickers, Bucker, Heinkel, and Northrop in addition to producing aircraft of its own design. In 1980, it joined with Indonesia's IPTN to create Airtech for production of the CN-235 turboprop transport. Appealing to the military for its load carrying ability, excellent short field operations, and being adaptable to the maritime recon role, the General Electric CT7 turboprop CN-235 found favor with over 15 air forces. The maritime recon version can carry Exocet, Harpoon, and Mk. 46 torpedoes on underwing hard points.

Procured as a replacement for the Dassault HU-25 in United States Coast Guard service, the first HC-144A was delivered in December 2006 and became operational in April 2009. Initially 36 aircraft were planned, but this was changed to 18 and 14 surplus USAF C-27J Spartans were acquired to fill out the Coast Guard's fleet. The last Ocean Sentry was delivered in October 2014. Used for search and rescue, transport, drug patrol, and disaster response, HC-114A's have been assigned to Coast Guard Stations Cape Cod, Miami, Corpus Christi, Mobile, and Elizabeth City.

I took this photo of USCG #2301, the first HC-144A delivered, last year at Osh-kosh from the window of a Curtiss C-46 Commando. Number 2301 was received from Spain on 21 December 2006 and assigned to Elizabeth City. By 2014 it had been transferred to Cape Cod. Its appearance at Osh-kosh with its special paint job was to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Coast Guard aviation. It was accompanied by MH-60J and MH-65D helicopters and a Lockheed HC-130J Hercules.

On another note, congratulations to Cheri Rohlfing for her excellent work coordinating the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame banquet at the Hyatt Regency Bloomington.

Blue skies and tail winds!


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