(WAFB) - Much of what is learned about a major hurricane before it approaches land comes from the brave men and women of the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, better known as the Hurricane Hunters. The prestigious team carries scientific equipment into the heart of a storm, sending back readings for experts at the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
The Hurricane Hunters have become a vital part of monitoring systems in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, but their ongoing mission began as a dare.
In 1944, a few Army Air Corp pilots made a bet that an American-built, single engine aircraft was superior to its British counterpart. A few weeks later, Lt. Col Joe Duckworth proved it by flying his AT-6 Texan trainer into the eye of hurricane... twice. From that flight on, the now famous Hurricane Hunters were born.
While this team has been busy this hurricane season, much of their work is far from glamorous. A team of Hurricane Hunters will fly out and investigate any storm system the NHC deems suspicious.
"Often time, we don't find circulations, which is just as important as if we find something that would generate a Cat. 5 storm. We probably investigate five areas of interest before we find something that will turn into something significantly, media worthy," said Hurricane Hunter Navigator Mark Stevens in a 2011 interview.