Hurricane Hunter Lands In La Paz

BY: DICK FITZWELL

A Hércules Lockheed WC-130J belonging to the US Air Force, landed in La Paz and showed off to some lucky looky loos.

The special plane is equipped as a hurricane hunter and it couldn’t be in a better place to find hurricanes than here.

 The crew includes the pilot, a copilot, a navigator, a meteorologist, and half a dozen air reconnaissance staff who monitor half a dozen consoles telling them in real time what’s going on outside the plane. This data is streamed to meteorologists on the ground, eventually making its way to your weather girl on TV.

Every year, in preparation for hurricane season, a Hurricane Hunter visits us and other cities along the Pacific. This time the aircraft, which is part of the 53rd Meteorological Squadron of the USAF, was welcomed by government officials and a group of elementary school students, who were excited to  go onboard and learn how the crew gathers accurate data on a hurricane.

The Hercules flew to Manzanillo next and most likely this very plane will be the one to come back when a hurricane approaches our state.

Manned flights into hurricanes began in 1943 when, on a bet, Colonel Joseph Duckworth flew a single-engine plane into a category 1 storm near Galveston, Texas. Since then, six military weather reconnaissance planes have gone down, at a cost of 53 lives.

Before satellites were used to first detect storms, military aircraft flew routine weather reconnaissance to find them. Today, satellites have improved weather forecasters' ability to detect signs of such storms when they’re still little baby storms, but they cannot determine the interior barometric pressure nor provide accurate wind speed information--data needed to accurately predict hurricane development and direction of movement.