Hurricane hunters say they enjoy their job

NEW ORLEANS (WAFB) - It's Lieutenant Commander Justin Kibbey's job to keep his crew safe as they fly into the heart of hurricanes.

"As a pilot, I was told to avoid weather and stay away from the bad stuff and here I am flying right towards the eye of a hurricane," Kibbey says.

And there's good reason they teach pilots to avoid the weather these guys fly into.

"Think of the worst ride you ever had on an airliner and multiply that by ten," Kibbey said. "And that is what we are experiencing on a somewhat routine basis."

Up to 18 crew members fit on the plane that often flies 10-hour missions. It's a grueling job, but throughout the flight they are collecting data.

Rick Knabb, director of the national hurricane center, says data is essential.

"Enables us to collect data for research and operations forecasts and warnings that we try to make as accurate as we possibly can based on aircraft data and models and so forth. All of that is to support emergency managers' decisions to keep the public safe," Knabb says.

"You go out there. You fly," Kibbey says. "You come back. You eat something. You go to bed. You wake up and do it again. But we're happy to do it and we enjoy it."

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