CMSAF learns AFWA's unique mission

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Rachelle Blake
  • 55th Wing Public Affairs
The Air Force Weather Agency had the honor of hosting Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody March 11 as part of his three-day visit to the base.

This was Cody's first visit to AFWA and he was given the opportunity to learn about several of the many missions they cover.

First up was the 16th Weather Squadron, where U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Tony Aguilera, 16th WS weather applications evaluator, briefed Cody on a new application the unit is designing, which is scheduled for completion in April. The 'app' will bring real-time weather information to flight crews.

"With the Air Force transitioning from an electronic flight pad to an iPad, we thought 'why not give them a weather app?' and that is essentially what we are working on," he said.

Aguilera went on to show Cody how the app will feature tropopause height, winds, temperatures, turbulence and icing.

Next was the 2nd Weather Squadron, where he was introduced to two very unique job sets.

On one side of the house, Airmen like U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Matthew Mattern are responsible for monitoring volcanic activity.

"We are the Department of Defense's sole source for information on volcanic activity," said Mattern. "We are also the only ones globally who perform this mission 24/7."

Their main concern is the ash produced by volcanic activity.

"Volcanic ash can do great damage to our aircraft," said Mattern. "If the winds are strong, the ash can travel thousands of miles."

On the other side of the house sit Airmen who monitor solar weather. Similar to Mattern and his team, they are the only DOD unit to perform this job.

They are always on the lookout for occurrences such as sun spots and solar flares.

"The impact of solar flares can be as tremendous as taking out power in a large area to a warfighter losing communication in the field," said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Robyn McCullough.

Cody also visited with U.S. Air Force Airmen 1st Class Jeffery Niles and Jorge Veliz from the 2nd Systems Operations Squadron. Although the Airmen are communications Airmen by trade, their contributions are vital to AFWA.

They are responsible for ensuring the data used to create weather reports is available by monitoring and maintaining the information systems used by AFWA.

Cody's final stop was to the American Forces Network where less than a handful of Airmen produce a two and four-day weather forecast for more than 1.5 million viewers worldwide.

"We produce six different shows to 75 different locations," said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Laura Mickus. "Our audience is mostly Airmen deployed or stationed overseas and their families."

Cody had the opportunity to record a forecast of his own for some of AFN's viewers.

Overall, he was impressed with the caliber of Airmen he heard from and met.

"We have had the great opportunity to chat with some really motivated Airmen who are really proud of what they do and are extremely knowledgeable," said Cody. "It seems pretty clear to me they understand how their mission connects to what we are doing in our Air Force. You could really see that pride."