Defense

August 29, 2012

Hurricane Hunters provide critical data during major storms

hurricane-hunters1

As the Air Force Reserve’s 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, better known as the “Hurricane Hunters,” wrap up their mission flying through Hurricane Isaac, one of the unit’s pilots provided an insight into who they are and some facts and figures about how they perform during their dangerous missions.

Lt. Col. Jeff Ragusa is based with the unit out of Keesler Air Force Base, in Biloxi, Miss., and posted a series of quick facts about the unit on Facebook.

The center of circulation of Tropical Storm Lee can be seen as the WC-130J aircraft flys over Tropical Storm Lee Sept. 3, 2011. The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron “Hurricane Hunters,” were heading back to Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss, after penetrating the storm Sept. 2.

The unit flies with 10 WC-130J aircraft equipped with palletized meteorological data-gathering instruments and can put together as many as 20 aircrews. Ragusa and his crew are currently flying out of Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base, Texas, as Keesler is in the path of Hurricane Isaac. He pointed out a few facts that aren’t commonly known about the unit and its mission:

  • While commercial airliners often fly at 40,000 feet, we never fly storms above 10,000 feet. Hurricanes can extend up to 60,000 feet.
  • We only fly storms over water. When the storm hits land, our mission is complete.
  • Our missions can last as long as 14 hours and use as much as 60,000 lbs. of fuel.
  • We have a minimum crew of five: pilot, co-pilot, navigator, weather officer and loadmaster/dropsonde operator.
  • There are only 12 planes in the world allowed to fly into hurricanes and we have 10 of them. The other two are flown by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
  • We can fly a storm 24 hours a day. It takes at least three planes and crews.
  • We fly as low as 500 feet during the infancy of a storm.
  • Hurricane Katrina, on a similar path as Isaac, devastated the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where Keesler is located on Sept. 29, 2005. Many of the Hurricane Hunters, who are all Air Force Reservists, live near the base.
  • Despite great personal losses, the unit never missed a tasking from the National Hurricane Center.
  • Data and observations gathered by the Hurricane Hunters helps make the forecasts by the NHC 30 percent more accurate allowing local officials to make critical decisions about safety and property.

Maj. Jeff Ragusa, now a lieutenant colonel, is a pilot with the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron interviewed by on-air meteorologist, Todd Yakoubian onboard a WC-130J Hurricane Hunter aircraft during a mission into Hurricane Ike September 11, 2008.

The Hurricane Hunters organization actually goes back to 1943, when on a barroom dare, two Army Air Corps pilots flew a propeller-driven, single engine AT-6 “Texan” trainer into the eye of a hurricane. Maj. Joe Duckworth actually flew into the hurricane twice that day – once with a navigator and later with a weather officer. His efforts paved the way for the unit’s activation a year later at Gander, Newfoundland with the mission to fly weather tracks between North American and allied Western Europe. Since then, the unit has been headquartered in New Hampshire, Florida, Bermuda, England, Saudi Arabia, Georgia, and Puerto Rico before settling at its current location.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Boeing photograph

CH-46 ‘Phrog’ makes its last hop

Boeing photograph The CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter commonly known as the “Phrog,” is set to retire and to be flown one last time by Reserve Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 774 on Aug. 1. The CH-46 Sea Knight is a med...
 
 

Advanced Extremely High Frequency system achieves IOC

Gen. John Hyten, the Air Force Space Command commander, declared initial operational capability for the Advanced Extremely High Frequency system July 28. The significant achievement reflects collaboration between numerous organizations, including Headquarters Air Force Space Command, the Space and Missile Systems Center, Army, Navy and the developers, Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman. The s...
 
 
Navy photograph

Surface-to-surface missile test for LCS successful

Navy photograph Three missiles from a ripple fire response strike their moving targets during an engineering development test of modified Longbow Hellfire missiles. The missile system, designated the Surface-to-Surface Missile ...
 

 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Betty R. Chevalier

New interrogation system installed on AWACS, more in pipeline

Air Force photograph by SrA. Betty R. Chevalier An E-3 Sentry AWACS from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., prepares to land May 16, 2015. AWACS have the capability to detect enemy as well as friendly aircraft at great distances usi...
 
 
Army photograph by SFC Walter E. van Ochten

U.S., Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria train together at Rapid Trident 2015

Army photograph by SFC Walter E. van Ochten U.S. soldiers, of the 3rd Platoon, 615th Military Police Company, 709th Military Police Battalion, react as they conduct reacting to contact training as part of their situational trai...
 
 
Army photograph by Sgt. Juana M. Nesbitt

Estonian, US forces receive new jump wings

Army photograph by Sgt. Juana M. Nesbitt Pvt. Kalmer Simohov, of Parnu, a volunteer with the Estonian Defense League, receives his U.S. Army Airborne wings following the joint airborne operations exercise at a drop zone in Nurm...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>