BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The Hurricane Hunters are now back safely on the ground after a flight into Hurricane Irma on Sunday morning.
There aren't very many experiences that compare with putting yourself in a huge C-130 plane and flying straight through a major storm like Irma. But, that's just another day on the job for the 53d Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, also known as the Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters.
There are many pieces to the Hurricane Hunter puzzle. For instance, the pilots aren't the ones who work in the cockpit.
"I kind of have the big picture of what's the aircraft physically doing, where are we going in the storm with the radar and then planning ahead. What are we going to do next time through the storm," said Lt. Col. Phillip Dobson, the navigator for the plane.
At the same time, the pilots are keeping an eye on their surroundings. And, of course, flying through the storm is no smooth ride. Through the intense turbulence, there are tests constantly being done to measure the ingredients that make up a huge storm like Hurricane Irma. Tests are conducted by Naval Academy students, and the Hurricane Hunters.
"When you think about it, it's a big piece of the pie. Getting this information from the Hurricane Hunters. We're the ones that relay the information to the National Hurricane Center," said Tech. Sgt. Karen Moore.
As Irma pummels the mainland, the trips into the storm become more frequent.
"You've got to think about it. The atmosphere is always changing, so it's always different. It's never the same thing," said Moore.
But, the conditions are something the Hurricane Hunters want to keep as current as possible to help those in the path of the storm.
Hurricane Irma went on record as the strongest storm in recorded history, and now because of this flight, new data could help those in its path have a better idea of what to expect and how to better protect their lives.