Coast Guard helicopter makes emergency landing at Berkeley Marina

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter made an emergency landing in Berkeley on Saturday. Photo: Stephen Van Den Eeden

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter made an emergency landing in Berkeley on Saturday after the autopilot system failed and a crew member in the cockpit smelled something electrical burning, authorities report.

The helicopter landed in Cesar Chavez Park in the Berkeley Marina just after noon.

According to Petty Officer Prentice Danner, a local spokesman for the Coast Guard, the helicopter was responding to a mayday call for help when a crew member smelled something burning in the cockpit area and realized the team needed to land.

Danner said the helicopter initially took off from Air Station San Francisco around 11 a.m. The day started with a routine patrol flight in Santa Rosa, then the team — two pilots, a rescue swimmer and a flight mechanic — was diverted briefly toward Monterey for a search and rescue case.


But as the crew headed to that call, it was diverted again to the water near the Presidio in San Francisco for the mayday call.

While the team was searching the grid for the mayday call, Danner said, one of the autopilot systems failed electronically, and the crew had to take over manual control of the helicopter.

A short time later, someone in the cockpit noticed an electrical burning smell and made the decision to land in Berkeley.

As of about 4:10 p.m., the helicopter remained on the ground in Berkeley. No injuries were reported.

The U.S. Coast Guard is working on a salvage plan to get the helicopter back to Air Station San Francisco for maintenance, Danner said.


Update, 6:45 p.m. The salvage operation appears to be underway.