Young meteorologist learns about weather, gets big surprise

  • Published
  • By Paul Shirk
  • 55th Wing Public Affairs

Ask any child what they want to be when they grow up and you’ll probably get a number of answers. Careers like medicine, law enforcement and acting are some of the most popular. Not many children dream of becoming a meteorologist.

The 557th Weather Wing at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, had an opportunity to introduce an aspiring meteorologist to his dream career on May 11, 2018. Mason Ogle, a 14-year-old from Crescent, Iowa, who is currently battling cancer and one day wants to become a meteorologist was given a tour of the wing. His love for meteorology began with a fascination with extreme weather.

“I have always loved thunderstorms since I was a little kid,” said Mason. “I get excited whenever I know there is a chance for severe weather in our area.”

Mason’s day as an honorary meteorologist at the 557th WW began by meeting the wing commander and wing leadership. He was presented with an Air Force Meteorology occupational badge and received an introduction to the wing and its two groups.

While visiting the 1st Weather Group, Mason learned about the operational weather squadrons that specialize in forecasting weather for different parts of the globe as well as how to interrogate weather radar.

“It was cool to learn they track the weather all over the world and how they use it for operations,” he said.

Mason also got to learn about parts of the 2d Weather Group, including the High Performance Computer Center, which hosts the Air Force’s largest special purpose processing node.

Two of Mason’s favorite stops in the 2d Weather Group were the Space Weather Operations Center and Volcanic Ash Monitoring Section. The Space WOC monitors the sun for solar flares and other phenomenon which can interfere with communications as well as damage electronics and power systems on Earth. The Volcanic Ash Monitoring Section monitors volcanoes around the world for signs of activity and projects the path of ash plumes, which can pose a flight risk to aircraft.

“I liked seeing the volcano pictures and how they watch the ash,” Mason said. “I was surprised they have someone who watches sun spots. I didn't know that was important.”

The surprise of the day came when Mason visited the American Forces Network studio to record a weather forecast for the South Pacific. Unbeknownst to the Ogle family, the Make-A-Wish Foundation had granted his wish to go fishing on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. After Mason finished the forecast, he was given one more script to read.

“…and hopefully it will be sunny and warm in Australia where I will be fishing on the Great Barrier Reef,” Mason read his surprise aloud. “Congratulations Mason, your wish has been granted!”

Mason’s mother, Jaclyn Ogle, said she was happy to see her son receive his wish but also had other reasons to be smiling.

“This visit was so much more than I expected,” Ogle said. “It was a really good learning experience for Mason and me. When he was diagnosed with cancer, we thought his dreams of going to the Air Force and getting into meteorology would be gone. This has opened his eyes to many more options and increased his passion in the field so much more.”