About 200 U.S. Coast Guard aviators descended on Astoria as the annual Pterodactyl Roost began Thursday.
The annual meeting of the Coast Guard Aviation Association, a fraternal organization also known as Ancient Order of the Pterodactyl, brings together pilots and other flight-crew members for four days of sight-seeing at the Graveyard of the Pacific.
Vice Adm. Vivien Crea, vice commandant of the Coast Guard, will also attend part of the event. Second in command in the Coast Guard, Crea is the highest ranking woman in the history of the U.S. military.
Coast Guard Group Astoria competed against Air Station Barbers Point in Hawaii for the opportunity to play host to this year's Roost, said Lt. Adam Davenport, an Astoria pilot.
"We sold the Pterodactyls on Astoria by showcasing its scenery, charm and high probability of breathtaking search and rescue," he said, noting Coast Guard members cross the country to train in the rough waters at Ilwaco, Wash.'s National Motor Lifeboat School and at Astoria's Advanced Helicopter Rescue School. "We are a destination for SAR training and experience for the entire Coast Guard, both afloat and air assets."
Those attending the Roost will visit historic sites such as Fort Clatsop and the Doughboy Monument and filming locations from the "Goonies" and "Kindergarten Cop" movies, sample Oregon seafood and wine and explore Washington's North Head Lighthouse and Cape Disappointment, overlooking the treacherous Columbia River bar.
They'll also get to check out some of the Coast Guard's newest and recently updated aircraft: the new MH-60T Thunderhawk helicopter, the HC-144 Casa search plane, an MH-65 helicopter from Air Station Port Angeles, Wash., a C-130 plane from Air Station Sacramento, Calif., and one of Air Station Astoria's three HH-60 Jayhawk helicopters.
The event was coordinated by a committee of Coast Guard Lt. Rob Potter, Lt. Brooks Crawford, Rear Adm. Ed Nelson, Capt. Rod Leland, Cmdr. Ron Larsen and Cmdr. Malcolm Smith under the direction of Capt. Peter Troedsson, Coast Guard Group Astoria's commander. It ends Sunday with a business meeting.
Davenport said the organization offers numerous benefits for members, mainly by helping them stay connected with Coast Guard aviation, enjoy camaraderie of former and current colleagues, network for future jobs "and promote recognition and historical preservation of all things Coast Guard aviation."
All 19 pilots at Air Station Astoria have been members at some point. "We get invited to join upon receiving our wings," Davenport said.