Air Station Morehead City, North Carolina

June 14, 2022

Aviation Station Morehead City, North Carolina


Original Location: 
One mile west of Morehead City, North Carolina 

Current Location:

Date of Commission:
24 March 1920

Disestablished 1 July  1922

Historical Remarks:

The Coast Guard opened an ad hoc air station at the abandoned naval air station at Morehead City on 24 March 1920.  Without a budget, aviation personnel managed to scrounge up four Curtiss HS-2L flying boats (serial numbers A-1170, A-1240, A-1474, A-1735) and two Aeromarine Model 40s.  The station's first and only commanding officer, LT William P. Wishar, a recent graduate of Pensacola, explained why Morehead City was chosen:

Lieutenant Commander Stanley Parker [who] . . . initiated the first C.G. air station. . .[and he was] then handling matters connected with C. G. aviation, [he] contacted me and informed me I was to command this first Coast Guard air station.  He asked my views as to which of two available surplus Navy air stations would be better for our Coast Guard aviation work: the one at Morehead City, North Carolina, or Key West, Florida.  I gave him my ideas: that Key West would be a better-weather, less rugged station; [the] Coast Guard had to prove the worth of aviation as an adjunct to its duties.  The rougher-weather Morehead City Station was closer to "the graveyard of the Atlantic" (Cape Hatteras).  We would have more opportunities to locate vessels in distress, derelicts, menaces to navigation, and vessels ashore on Diamond Shoals, Lookout Shoals and Frying Pan Shoals.  Parker was in accord, and informed the Navy the Coast Guard would take the Navy's Morehead City Air Station.

The 1921 Register of Officers lists the following officers who were stationed at "Aviation Station Morehead City, N.C.", in 1920, a list that is a virtual "who's who" of early Coast Guard aviation: LCDR (E) C. E. Sugden commanded the station; LCDR W. P. "Wishaar" [sic], LCDR Robert Donohue, LCDR C. C. von Paulsen; LT (E) E. F. Palmer; Warrant Gunner C. T. Thrun, Warrant Gunner J. H. Earle, and Warrant Machinist W. S. Anderson.  

After operating for little over two years, Wishar was ordered to close the station due to a lack of funding.  He noted:

Coast Guard Air Station at Morehead City, North Carolina, remained in commission until July, 1922.  I received orders to place the station out of commission and transfer planes and equipment elsewhere for storage.  Personnel were transferred to other assignments.  A few enlisted personnel under Carpenter Tobiason were left to complete shipments and clean up. 

One report notes that in July, 1926 the flying boats were returned to the Navy while other sources indicate that the aircraft were all deliberately "destroyed."

Commanding Officers

1920: LCDR (E) C. E. Sugden
1921: LT William P. Wishar


Historical Sources:

Air Station Files, U. S. Coast Guard Historian's Office

Arthur Pearcy.  A History of U. S. Coast Guard Aviation.  Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1989.