Hurricane Hunters Head For Guam - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

04/24/03

Hurricane Hunters Head For Guam

About one third of the Hurricane Hunters from Keesler won't be hunting hurricanes in the Atlantic and Caribbean this year. Instead, they'll be tracking typhoons in the Pacific.

More than one hundred of the Biloxi based Hurricane Hunters are being deployed to Guam.

"If you go out the back, work your way around. If everything's good, give me a touchdown symbol," said Captain Rob, as he briefed his crew on safety procedures.

They prepared for a unique assignment. One third of the Hurricane Hunters, who usually track storms in the Atlantic, will be flying over Pacific waters this coming storm season.

"This is the first time the 53rd weather reconnaissance squadron has ever been activated and mobilized. It's been a pretty smooth process. And we're ready to go. We're ready to be the first ones ever to do this," said the pilot.

He's excited about the mission, but not anxious to leave behind his wife and baby boy. Dixie and eight month old Connor join the growing number of military families with loved ones deployed overseas.

"We've been in this situation before. The unit my husband was in before he was away a lot. But now we have a little one at home. It's a little different. We were just rushing around last night at midnight putting up safety gates and baby proofing. That's the thing that's different now," said the pilot's wife.

The Hurricane Hunters are being called on to improve forecasting abilities for the Pacific Command. Anderson Air Force base on Guam was seriously damaged last year by a super typhoon, after satellite forecasting failed to predict the storm's track.

"So we're going to be out there giving them real time reconnaissance and giving them a better chance to put some data into models to give them a better idea where that thing's going to go," explained the Hurricane Hunter pilot.

With one third of the squadron gone to Guam, those remaining in Biloxi will rely on extra help from reservists.

"We'll be spread thin, but it will be a big challenge and I know we'll be able to take care of it," said Captain Rob.

By the way, the Air Force Reserve has new rules which won't allow us to use the last names of those deployed or their families.

The deployment to Guam will last until December 15th.

By Steve Phillips

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