The chuff-chuff-chuff of the three nearly 50-foot propellers whirled over the Vineyard Sound. Lobstermen off-loading their catch turned their heads, tourists snacking at The Galley covered their ears, and a cherry tree hugged its roots as its blossoms showered the tops of heads bared by the loss of hats.

A 64-foot Sikorski MH60 “Tango” multi-mission, twin-engine, medium-range helicopter was landing right next to the Coast Guard station in Menemsha. And, because this was an open house, anybody who wanted to could climb inside the craft and get a close-up look.

“I felt like this property was suitable for an aircraft landing,” said Justin Longval, looking around the grassy knoll outside the Menemsha Coast Guard station for which he’s the officer in charge. “It doesn’t happen every day.”

Tours inside the craft were a highlight. — Albert O. Fischer

Mr. Longval is right. The last time a helicopter landed in Menemsha (notwithstanding the practice run completed one month ago) was Christmas two years ago when the “flying Santa” arrived on the Vineyard. But the coasties from the Otis Air Station in Cape Cod who flew the MH60T, known in other branches of the military as a Jayhawk or Blackhawk, had no trouble landing on Saturday, even with the narrow space and the crowd of people watching.

“Ideal conditions for the hello,” said Lieut. Commander Bill Burwell. “I just hope I didn’t fling too much goose poop on everyone.”

Those spared the guano and cherry blossom deluge piled into the search-and-rescue helicopter, with its crew explaining every one of its hundreds of buttons, life-jackets, safety-straps, levers, and more. Brian McLaughlin, a commander in the Coast Guard, told visitors about a harrowing rescue mission conducted 60 miles south of Rockland, M.E. The MH60T can take off with a 60 mile-per-hour headwind and achieve speeds close to 180 miles per hour. It can also hover.

“Of course, the fixed-wing jet has better search capabilities,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “But they can’t hover. We are the ones who pull people out of the water.”

Others were just excited to get to see a helicopter up close.

“It was wonderful,” Jan Speer said. “We’ve been coming to Menemsha for 50 years and always saw the helicopters flying overhead. It was amazing to see it land.”

A day with the Coasties. — Albert O. Fischer

Her husband Herb, who has served tours of duty as an armed serviceman in Germany, said he loved the landing as well.

“I just wish I was in it,” he said.

The Coast Guard also hosted tours of the Menemsha station and their search-and-rescue boats stationed in the harbor of the small fishing village. Curious passersby had the chance to the see the inside of the vessels and offices of the 25 active-duty coast guardsmen who have devoted their lives to keeping them safe on the water.

Standing on top of one of the Coast Guard’s two 47-foot motor lifeboats, heavy-duty coxswain Joel Behr described the training necessary to captain one of the vessels. Sailors have to become a crewman first, then a boatswain’s mate, then get shipped out to Cape Disappointment in Washington state to complete six months of basic training. And that’s just to be a coxswain. Almost all of the drivers in Menemsha, including Mr. Behr, are heavy-duty coxswain.

“A lot of it is knowledge and knowing your AOR [area of responsibility],” Mr. Behr said. “You have to know every rock, every shallow, every port, every harbor.”

A heavy duty coxswain can take the 47’s out in storm-like conditions, with winds raging at 50 mph and 30-foot seas. Lucky for them, if the 47 capsizes it has the buoyancy to right itself in 8 to 12 seconds. Although he said that hasn’t been necessary outside of training, Mr. Behr described a rescue near Block Island where he and his crew were on the water for over 10 hours.

Visitors who weren’t previously familiar with the Coast Guard Station in Menemsha were left awestruck by the facility and the crew’s knowledge.

“This has been very interesting,” said Matt Perlstein, who came to the open house with his wife Marla. “We hadn’t been back on the Island for probably 30 years, but the Vineyard is a special place. And so is the Coast Guard.”

More photos.