Hurricane Hunters and Aircraft Dispatchers

Military pilots, flight engineers, navigators, aircraft dispatchers, air traffic controllers, and Base Operations personnel are just some of the aviation careers that the military has to offer. A military background combined with a Dispatcher Certificate achieved at the industry’s leading school of aeronautics is an effective marketing tool for making yourself stand out in front of prestigious airlines.

One of the many respected careers in the military is the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron of the United States Air Force Reserve, otherwise known as the Hurricane Hunters. The job of a Hurricane Hunter is not for the faint-hearted.  These brave men and women must fly straight into one of the most destructive forces in nature.

Hurricanes are born over the open ocean; mainly during the winter time when hurricane season is imminent in the Atlantic Ocean. The 403rd Wing located at the Kessler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi is the only operational unit in the world that flies weather reconnaissance on a routine basis. This unit provides surveillance of tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and central Pacific Ocean. While satellites can track their movement, meteorologists and researchers need to sample the storms directly in order to get the most accurate information about them.

To perform their missions, the Hurricane Hunters use the WC-130J Super Hercules aircraft model. This plane is actually a modified cargo plane that’s configured with sophisticated weather instruments to measure parameters such as wind, pressure, temperature, and humidity. Hurricane Hunters encounter devastating winds that can reach over 150 miles per hour. Thankfully, these planes have high-tech equipment on board to get the job done, like radar and fixed probes that measure particles in the air. The jet can fly higher than the turboprops, gathering data from the upper atmosphere.

A basic crew of five is carried on the aircraft: a pilot, co-pilot, navigator, flight meteorologist, and weather reconnaissance loadmaster. Each of these members has a specific role. The pilot and co-pilot fly the plane, keeping things safe and on time. The navigator keeps track of the aircraft’s position and movement, and they monitor the radar to avoid severe weather. The flight meteorologist is the flight director in the storm environment, continuously monitoring the atmospheric data that is taken by aircraft sensors and guiding the aircraft to the hurricane’s center. Lastly, the weather reconnaissance loadmaster not only checks that all cargo is loaded properly before flight, but in-flight they collect and record meteorological data using a parachute-borne sensor called a dropwindsonde, which measures and encodes weather parameters while descending to the ocean surface.

Aircraft reconnaissance is considered to be the most direct method of measuring the winds of a hurricane. Data provided by the Hurricane Hunters is vital to tropical storm forecasting and makes it possible for advanced warnings of hurricanes, as well as increased accuracy of hurricane predictions. Hurricane Hunters take a literal look into the eye of a monster formed by nature. The knowledge needed for such a job is what saves lives.

If your dream is to be part of the Hurricane Hunters, your career could possibly begin at an aviation school and knowing the fundamentals of aircraft dispatching.  Sheffield School of Aeronautics is the world’s leading FAA-approved aircraft dispatching school.

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