Knowing weather more than just looking outside

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jocelyn A. Ford
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Spokane, Wash. experienced the latest snowfall in recorded history June 10. Snow? In June? Later that week, thunder storms and lightning; one storm seemingly appearing out of nowhere. For the general population, weather is something that just happens and has to be dealt with. But for a small flight within the 92nd Operations Support Squadron, weather brings excitement and a sense of purpose.

On a day-to-day basis each member of the Weather Flight is responsible for briefing flight crews before every flight. They provide the weather not only for takeoff, but the mission and the landing. This requires more than just taking a look outside before the crew leaves. They have to know the weather of where each crew is heading and everything in between. Their forecasts are "always professional, always spot on," said Capt. Miguel Fernandez, 92nd OSS commander's executive officer.

The eight-man weather shop provides support for all components on Fairchild, as well as off base locations, maintaining operations 24 hours a day. The service they provide their customers "leads to saving lives each year," said Senior Master Sgt. Wesley Mathias, weather flight superintendent and 92nd OSS superintendent. The information is up-to-the-minute and gives pilots what they need to do their job efficiently, he said.

Like every other Fairchild unit, Airmen in the Weather Flight have to be deployable at a moment's notice. The shop is currently operating with two of the eight deployed, which seems to be quite common in this shop, according to Sergeant Mathias. Yet this fact does not appear to be hurting this flight's morale.

"It's busy and exciting when you have weather, like thunderstorms," says Staff Sgt. Bradley Boatman, weather observer/forecaster. Coming in daily, and knowing that it isn't going to be the same old thing every day is one thing that attracts Sergeant Boatman to the job.

Being in weather consists of more than just watching the satellite images on the computer. Often, phone calls come in asking general questions, many times questions that have nothing to do with weather. Sergeant Boatman remembers a call that came in early one morning from an elderly lady in the Spokane Valley. She had seen strange lights above the valley mall and was looking for answers. Even with the occasional off-the-wall phone call, Sergeant Boatman likes what he does.

The 92nd OSS weather flight has proven their capabilities at the Air Mobility Command level. "I am proud to have led this weather flight to receiving the AMC Outstanding Weather Unit of the Year award for 2007," said Sergeant Mathias. The Outstanding Weather Unit of the Year award is given to the unit with the greatest amount and efficiency of support that enhances the warfighter's ability to execute the mission.