Lieutenant Commander Barrett
Thomas Beard, USCG (ret.) began his military career when he enlisted in the United States Navy. In 1955,
he completed flight training and was commissioned into the Naval Reserve. He flew missions in the A-1 Skyraidder
and E-1 Tracer; and, completed a tour in Vietnam on Yankee Station. He left the Navy and entered the United
States Coast Guard. During his entire military career he accumulated more than 6,000 flight hours.
Tom Beard is the author of Wonderful Flying Machines: A History of U.S. Coast Guard Helicopters and A Jaunty
Little Boat from Poulsbo. He is also a co-author of Coast Guard.
According to one reader of Wonderful
Flying Machines: A History of U.S. Coast Guard Helicopters, “Tom is a gem. He's one of the few people
who has written of Coast Guard Aviation who knows that of which he speaks, having been there and done it. This is not to disparage
the various historians and popular authors such as Sebastian Junger who have tried to get a handle on what it is we do, but
we Pterodactyls are a tight-lipped bunch to outsiders. But Tom is one of us, and we're glad he blabbed. He has done a
meticulous study of Frank Erickson and the evolution of the search & rescue helicopter and the mundane, but necessary
innovations such as the rescue hoist. Without the machinations that Frank went through, rescue at sea would be a very different
business today. Many people do not understand that the United States Coast Guard INVENTED hoisting people from the water.
Frank was brilliant, uncredited, and unknown, outside of CG Aviation. He was disdained by the seaplane community in the CG
during his lifetime. The passage of time has proven Frank right. In his book, Tom grasped and articulated the struggle that
Frank went through proving his theories and nicely packaged Igor Sikorsky's vision for the helicopter as a tool for humanitarian
service. Even my non-flying friends enjoyed the book...which I recommend when they ask what the heck it is that I do for a