As major storms appear in the tropics, the Hurricane Hunters prepare to go right into them. So far this season they have entered seven storms, flying each for at least 24 hours.
"It's been a very busy season. We're just now catching our breath," said Major Chad Gibson.
Needless to say, the Keesler Air Force-based hunters are tired, but they take pride in being able to provide such a special and unique service. The Hurricane Hunters collect and provide data to the National Hurricane Center, helping it to make more accurate storm predictions.
"Morale is always high because our mission is very important. The Air Force Reserve has been doing this for quite some time, so we know the impact of our data increases the actual Hurricane Center forecast by 25 to 30 percent. With that knowledge our morale is always high because we're saving, not only a lot of money, but indirectly saving lives," said Gibson.
And this year, they've had the luxury of using the new C-130Js to navigate storms. So far, so good.
"So far, they've held up quite well. There were a couple of us that still have a fondness for the old H models, even though they were 40 years old. We had some concerns going into the storm, and so far they seem to have proven themselves quite adequate," said Chief Master Sergeant Mike Scaffidi.
The comfort of the new planes has been a bit of a reward to the hunters during this busy season.
Chief Scaffidi has been flying through storms since 1979, and says he has never seen a season like this one.
"You'll come back from a storm. You'll be hot, you'll be tired, but you know you've done something for the last fifteen, sixteen hours," said Scaffidi.