Good morning. I am Captain Lance Oakland, your Supervisor of Flying for this mission. The time will be 0530 in five... four... three... two... one... hack. Your call sign is Teal 41. Your scheduled departure time is 0730 local, so please be out at the aircraft by 0645. Your primary aircraft is number 980 on parking spot 14 with 65,000 pounds of fuel on board. You are tasked for three fixes on Hurricane Opal. The crew that's out there right now just called and said they only had a few bumps all night, but the storm looks like its winding up and getting stronger. At the back of the room, we have a visitor from the Web who will be flying along with you on this mission......................... Have a safe flight!
|Follow the pilot and navigator, as they work out the flight plan. The weather officer has just called the National Hurricane Center, and gotten our tasking: we are going to fly into the eye at 1500, 1800, and 2100 Zulu, at 10,000 feet. The storm is expected to be at 25 degrees north, and 90 degrees west, in the Gulf of Mexico, heading north-northeast towards the Florida panhandle. Hope you packed a bag, because the way this thing is moving, we probably won't be coming back to Keesler Air Force Base tonight!|
|Step out onto the flight line, and pause
to catch your breath: it's a typical summer day on the
Mississippi Gulf Coast. There are only three airplanes parked on the ramp, and an escort explains
that of the ten aircraft owned by the 53rd WRS, one is flying Opal right now, and six have evacuated out of Opal's way. The others will evacuate later this evening.
|Duck inside the plane and immediately notice that the "Herc" is not built for comfort--it's a real workhorse. There are bundles of wires, cables and ducts running the length of the ceiling. And in the middle of the cargo compartment is a giant tank of fuel. You can touch it through the canvas web seats. While the pilots, navigator, flight engineer and weather officer climb up the ladder to the flight deck, the dropsonde operator shows Windy his seat in the back of the airplane.|
|The flight engineer and dropsonde operator have finished the aircraft preflight, and all systems are GO! So put in your earplugs as we start the engines. These engines are powerful and a lot louder than any commercial plane you might have ridden on before. The dropsonde operator stands outside the aircraft during engine start to watch for flames, smoke, or any fluids spewing out of the engine. Scared yet? This is your last chance to change your mind!|
|"Teal Four One, Keesler Tower. Cleared for takeoff runway two one. Climb and maintain two thousand, runway heading." The airplane is very heavy with a full load of fuel, so we'll have to use most of the mile-long runway. Brace yourself: the engines are running at full power, so as soon as the pilot releases the brakes, the plane will leap forward. Rolling.... rolling... picking up speed... there's 100 mph... rotation... we're off! For another adventure into the most dangerous weather in the world.|
|Back to Windy's Room||Continue your flight|