Published: Jun 27, 2010 3:45 PM EDT
Updated: Jun 26, 2010 9:07 PM EDT

PENSACOLA BEACH, Fla. -  Responders in Pensacola describe the situation along the sandy shores as "moment by moment."  They're optimistic with the progress they've made cleaning up the beach  but fearful of what's still in store for their white sand shores.  To give us an idea of the challenges they're dealing with, the Coast Guard allowed only WINK News to take a ride in the air over the shores, and the very site of the Deepwater Horizon explosion.

WINK News Chief Investigator Melissa Yeager describes what she saw:

We board the Coast Guard plane in Mobile, Alabama early Saturday morning.  After take off, we look out the windows, and for a few moments see blue ocean waters and oil rigs.  Then suddenly you start to see the shimmer, and then the thick lines of oil weaving like a snake through the water.  That's also when you notice the thick plumes of oil.  

It's nothing like I expected, I expected to see oil everywhere, but it's more like clouds of oil separated by patches of blue waters.

Then, after an hour of flying, the pilot lowers the back cargo door to give us a better perspective.  It is just incredible to see how many boats are out here responding.

A city of boats almost appears out of nowhere.  It's impressive to see how many vessles are responding, putting out booms and trying to contain the oil.  Then you realize how small those boats and booms are compared to the big plumes of oil.

The pilot then takes us back to shore, where you can see the waters have turned murky with oil.  We landed back in Mobile with a whole new perspective of the Gulf crisis.