The Baylander is a former Army Yard Freight Utility Craft. Originally named SKILAK (YFU-79), the 134-foot craft was used during the Vietnam War to transport equipment and supplies. It later served as a deck-landing trainer patrolling the calm waters of Santa Rosa Bay and offered aspiring aviators their first taste of a landing surface that wasn’t stationary.
Transferred from government to civilian ownership, the Baylander former US Navy IX-514 Helicopter Landing Trainer (HLT) was built by Pacific Coast Engineering Company. The HLT flight deck was designed to have a Level 2, Class 3 aviation certification and was engineered to support helicopters from all military services and government agencies.
Billed as the US Navy’s “smallest aircraft carrier”, this 131-foot vessel has provided a cost-effective training platform for underway single-spot deck landing qualifications (both day and night ops) for the US Navy, Marine, Air Force, Coast Guard, and the National Guard from many states. It was designed to provide a deck with the same dimensions as an Oliver Hazard Perry class frigate. Since it began service as a helicopter trainer in 1986, it has completed 120,000 error-free helicopter landings, with the record being 346 landings in one day on June 10, 1988