Video – C130 Flies Into Hurricane Sandy

A Hurricane Hunter USAF Lockheed WC-130J Hercules assigned to the 53rd Reconnaissance Squadron located at Keesler AFB, Biloxi, Mississippi flies into Hurricane Sandy off the East Coast of the United States. 29 Oct 2012.

Video by Tech. Sgt. J Wilcox 1st Combat Camera Squadron.

The 53d Weather Reconnaissance Squadron (AFRC), also known by its nickname, Hurricane Hunters, is a flying unit of the United States Air Force, and “the only Department of Defense organization still flying into tropical storms and hurricanes.” It flies aircraft into tropical cyclones in the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean for the specific purpose of directly measuring weather data in and around those storms. The 53d WRS currently operates ten Lockheed WC-130J aircraft.

Although satellite data has revolutionized weather forecasters’ ability to detect early signs of tropical cyclones before they form, there are still many important tasks for which this information is not suitable. Satellites cannot determine the interior barometric pressure of a hurricane, nor provide accurate wind speed information. These data are needed to accurately predict hurricane development and movement. Because satellites cannot collect the data and ships are too slow and vulnerable, the only viable way to collect this information is with aircraft. Meteorological parameters measured are, the exact geographical position of the storm center at flight level and relative position of the center at the surface, sea-level atmospheric pressure of the storm center determined by GPS dropsonde or extrapolation from within 1,500 ft (460 m) of the sea surface, minimum pressure at altitudes of 5,000 ft (1,500 m) or 10,000 ft (3,000 m), wind profile data at flight level, temperature profile at flight level, and dew point profile at flight level.

The Lockheed WC-130J employs a standard five person crew of a pilot, co-pilot, navigator, aerial reconnaissance weather officer (ARWO), and a weather loadmaster/dropsonde operator, with a second loadmaster assigned when required. The ARWO is the flight meteorologist and acts as flight director inside the storm system.

1 Response

  1. CARs Deluxe says:

    At the 5:10 mark, as they show a shot of the cyclonic clouds and hear them say “fly into that thing”, it’s unbelievable how brave these folks truly are.

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