(From front) Cadet Senior Master Sgt. Robert Newsome, Cadet 2nd Lt. Richard McCallum and Cadet Capt. Nathan Wills abaord the WC-130 J Super Hercules.
The flight recorder on the Super Hercules .
The Hurricane Hunters’ dropsonde
Photos by 1st Lt. Bobby Newsome, Alabama Wing
Maj. Don Rohar
Aerospace Education Officer
Bessemer Composite Squadron
ALABAMA – Members of the Bessemer Composite Squadron were on board recently when Hurricane Hunters attached to the U.S. Air Force’s 405th Reconnaissance Wing flew a demonstration mission out of Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. to Louisiana's Lake Pontchartrain and back..
Whenever the National Weather Service issues a hurricane alert, most people run for cover. Crewmembers with the Keesler-based 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron aircrew, though, head for one of their 10 WC-130 J Super Hercules aircraft to confront the storm head-on and fly through the eye of the potentially hazardous system.
That’s what the Bessemer cadets and officers got a feel for, as the Super Hercules left Keesler, flew to and circled Lake Pontchartrain and then returned to Keesler a little over an hour later.
The five-man flight crew consisted of a pilot, co-pilot, navigator, flight meteorologist and a weather recon loadmaster. The loadmaster records vertical meteorological data transmitted by a parachute-borne sensor known as a dropsonde, which measures and records data from its release down to the ocean's surface. The meteorologist's duty is to analyze and interpret the data.
The Hurricane Hunters’ roots can be traced to a barroom July 27, 1943, when two off-duty U.S. Army Air Forces pilots dared each other to fly through a hurricane. Maj. Joe Duckworth took the challenge, and when a developing hurricane appeared, Duckworth flew his AT-6 Texan through it.
The 53rd Weather Recon Squadron was activated in 1944 at Gander, Newfoundland, in Canada. After a series of relocations – to New Hampshire, Florida, Bermuda, England, Saudi Arabia, and Georgia – the Hurricane Hunters finally found a permanent home in Biloxi.