When people hear a hurricane is heading their way, they often board up the windows and stock up on food and water. However, when the tropics become active, the men and women of the Weather Reconnaissance Squadron of the Air Force Reserves are busy in a very different way. They are preparing for a flight directly into the storm. They are the Hurricane Hunters.
The crew includes a pilot, co-pilot, navigator, and meteorologists. The meteorologists utilize information from the National Hurricane Center along with satellite and radar imagery before boarding the plane. This gives them a better idea of what to expect once they near the storm.
A flight plan is determined based on the National Hurricane Center's instructions to ensure that each point of interest is investigated. The crew is briefed and once the W-C130J is cleared for takeoff, the Hurricane Hunters are on their way.
"All of this information that we're going to take out of the storm today will get sent to the National Hurricane Center in Miami and they're going to take that information and plug it into the models that you see on TV," said Major Sean Cross, a pilot for the Hurricane Hunters. "How the ride's going to be today, I can't make any promises. It could be pretty smooth, it could be rough."