In the early years of Coast Guard Aviation, the US Coast Guard trained its enlisted aviation personnel at Navy schools. In 1949, Aviation Machinist's Mate (AD) "A" school was moved from San Diego, CA to the Aircraft Repair and Supply Center (ARSC) in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. That same year saw the movement of Aviation Electrician (AE), Aviation Structural Mechanic (AM) and Aviation Electronicsman (AL) "A" schools from San Diego, CA to the Naval Training Center in Memphis, Tennessee.
In August 1972, the Office of Personnel, Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, DC, commissioned an in-depth study of the aviation technical training needs of the Coast Guard. The study pointed out the growing need to train Coast Guard personnel to operate and maintain Coast Guard equipment different than the equipment used by the Navy. With unique specifications for Coast Guard aircraft and different maintenance philosophies existing between the two services, the Coast Guard eventually determined that centralized training under one management would enhance effectiveness.
The recommendation to consolidate all aviation technical training at Elizabeth City was approved, budgetary action was initiated, and additional planning was undertaken. Construction of the training center began in July 1976, the unit was commissioned on August 4, 1978 and all the schools previously held at ARSC were moved to the new facilities along with many of the "C" school courses.
In 1980, the Aviation Survivalman (ASM) "A" School was added to the ATTC curriculum. Throughout the years, numerous "C" Schools offering advanced training in aviation maintenance have been added and removed at ATTC to keep pace with the changing aircraft of the Coast Guard. These advanced schools reflect the high degree of complexity associated with aviation maintenance.
In 1995 the Coast Guard undertook another service-wide study of the aviation maintenance workforce, which resulted in a complete restructuring of the enlisted aviation workforce. In October 1998 ATTC began training and graduating petty officers in three newly created aviation ratings: Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT), Aviation Survival Technician (AST), and Avionics Technician (AVT).
Another fine-tuning of aviation maintenance occurred in 2003 when the AMT rating exchanged some of the electrical system responsibilities with the AVT rating. These changes prompted the formation of the AET, Avionics Electrical Technician.
The four buildings comprising ATTC today house 20 classrooms, 5 maintenance/electronic labs, a multipurpose room, aircraft mock-ups, and a computer media center. A small but dedicated staff of just over 100 officers, enlisted members, and civilians provide apprentice-level ("A" School) and journeyman-level ("C" School) training to nearly 700 of the Coast Guard's aviation maintenance personnel yearly.
The future of ATTC is a bright one. We are also examining the feasibility of hosting courses and providing training materials via the internet, as well as other means to expand training avenues for the field.