BILOXI, Miss. (NewsNation Now) — The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, better known as “The Hurricane Hunters” are deployed out every fall to fly into some of the biggest and strongest hurricanes that the Atlantic basin can spin up.
Their mission is to intercept tropical systems, find the center, and report back with critical meteorological information that will add accuracy to hurricane forecasting.
They are aligned under the 403rd Wing of the Air Force Reserve Command, flying WC-130J aircraft. We talked with a pilot, Capt. Forrest Heintz, to ask what it is like to fly through some of the Atlantic’s most powerful storms.
His aircraft, originally made for military cargo and transport, is full of equipment for studying hurricanes.
“There is no limit on wind speed that we can fly in to. The aircraft is not specially modified structurally.” Capt. Heintz said, “The engine, the air frame is just a standard C-130 with numerous meteorological equipment put on it.”
A question he gets asked often is “Can I buy a ticket to fly with the Hurricane Hunters in to storms?”
Capt. Heintz stated that he would love to bring his friends and his family along but aside from crew members, only members of the media are allowed to fly with them on missions.
“The one exception to bringing individuals along is being part of the media so that they can alert the public and get them prepared for the storm that is coming their way,” said Capt. Heintz.