In the summer of 1988, Coastal Helicopters began as a division of Alaska Coastal Airlines providing services to the US Forest Service using a Bell Jet Ranger.
In the fall of that year, Jim Wilson joined the company and began flying air taxi jobs in the winter months. He generated additional business and as a result a second helicopter, a Bell 206B, was purchased and Jim became a partner in the company. Later that same year Jim and Dot Wilson purchased all assets of Alaska Coastal Helicopters and became Coastal Helicopters, Inc. In 1996, Jim became the first Alaskan since 1960 to receive the Helicopter Association International ‘Pilot of the Year’ award.