There’s a little bit of Ledyard in the Weather Channel’s new show, which features men and women in the Coast Guard who are stationed in Florida.
“Coast Guard Florida” will broadcast on the Weather Channel beginning Wednesday, Oct. 10, and the show features Ledyard alumnus Chelsea (Smith) Kalil, who is a lieutenant at Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater.
The Weather Channel’s film crew showed up in March, she said, just in time to film her aircraft commander test.
"They just said, 'No pressure, but this is all being filmed and it'll probably be on television,'” she said of the extra passengers on her test flights. “It always makes it a little nerve-wracking.”
Kalil passed the test, and she is now an aircraft commander; her office is an HH-60 Jayhawk. She said she mainly does search-and-rescue, some law enforcement, port and waterway security.
"I love it,” she said of her job. “Obviously, it's a challenge every day, so it's a good job to have."
Kalil said the film crew stuck around for her first mission as an aircraft commander, which involved an emergency medical evacuation.
The show will feature different aspects of the Coast Guard's locations in Florida, including Clearwater, the Florida Keys and Miami.
Kalil said she's looking forward to seeing the medivac mission.
"It would be neat to see it from the back of the aircraft, and how they put the music in the background and make it suspenseful," she said.
Kalil graduated from Ledyard with the Class of 2002 and then graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 2007. She went to flight school and has been calling Clearwater her home since.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, the Clearwater base is the busiest station in the Coast Guard’s 7th district, “which monitors 15,000 miles of coastline across the southeastern United States and the Caribbean Basin with 39 cutters, 190 boats and 36 aircraft.”
Kalil said the show will be a lot of fun to watch.
"I think it's an awesome recruiting tool for the Coast Guard by showing the general population what the Coast Guard actually does," she said.
Kalil is the daughter of Ledyard residents Jane and Russell Smith, and the niece of Liz Smith.
The show is scheduled to air Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on the Weather Channel. Click here for the show’s complete schedule.