Hurricane Hunters visit Hurlburt

1st. Lt. Nicole Mitchell, 403rd Wing, shows local teachers WC-130J weather tracking equipment, (U.S. Air Force photo by Amy Oliver)

1st. Lt. Nicole Mitchell, 403rd Wing, shows local teachers WC-130J weather tracking equipment, (U.S. Air Force photo by Amy Oliver)

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- If it were hurricane season, some might have been worried.

A Hurricane Hunter crew from the Air Force Reserve Command's 403rd Wing and their WC-130J from Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., visited Hurlburt Field Friday and Saturday, combining a flying weekend with a cameo appearance at the Teachers' Aviation and Aerospace Workshop, sponsored by the Hurlburt Field chapter of the Air Force Association.

"Even in off-season, we have to maintain our flying hours," said 1st Lt Nicole Mitchell, aerial reconnaissance weather officer. "This is one of our flying weekends." Lieutenant Mitchell is also a meteorologist with the Weather Channel.

The crew members, all reservists, explained their mission to the teachers attending the workshop.
"We fly straight through the storm, and then turn around and fly through it again, slicing it in pie shapes," said Lt. Col. Douglas Niolet, aircraft commander.

During a mission, a device designed to collect weather data is released through the floor of the aircraft.

"A GPS dropsonde radios temperature, pressure, relative humidity and winds two times per second from the flight level to the surface," said Master Sgt. Scott Persinger, dropsonde operator.
Five crew members are on a typical mission: pilot, co-pilot, two weather officers and an enlisted dropsonde operator.

The weather officers collect, review and send the real-time weather information to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

"By the time we get back home, it's already on the news," said Colonel Niolet.

The WC-130J static display was part of the curriculum of the workshop, along with 16th Special Operations Wing aircraft static displays. During a break, 16th SOW aircrew members boarded the transient aircraft for a look.

1st Lt. Robert Wilson, a pilot with the 16th Special Operations Squadron, was impressed with the technology in the flight deck.

"The technology allowing all crew positions to monitor any aircraft function from different positions was amazing," said Lieutenant Wilson.