Weather flight keeps flights flying in clear skies

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Christopher L. Ingersoll
  • 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
One thing we have in abundance here is weather, which in some cases, doesn't mix well with aircraft. But the 100th Operations Support Squadron weather flight keeps our KC-135 Stratotankers flying in clear skies.

"The weather flight provides aircrew with the latest and most accurate weather forecasts and observations possible, 24 hours a day, which they put into a product that is delivered to us via video teleconferencing before every flight," said Capt. Nolan Vujevic, a KC-135 pilot. "That gives pilots the ability to make adjustments during all phases of our planning, up to the point where we step to the aircraft.

"They also give us airborne updates upon our request and apply our in-flight pilot reports to their forecasts," he said. "That allows all the aircraft arriving and departing our field to have the best possible situational awareness about current winds, hazards, and any other significant weather conditions."

Providing this kind of service requires a lot of equipment and coordination.

"We coordinate with local and regional weather agencies to provide a broad coverage over U.S. Air Forces in Europe and wherever support is needed," said Tech. Sgt. Ricardo Cisneros, 100th Operations Support Squadron. "At home stations we use observing equipment valued at $415,000. Satellite imagery, local radar and a multitude of software programs enable us to create weather products that we provide to base agencies as well as to the flying community."

And as for the flying community, Capain Vujevic said a solid weather report makes a big difference.

"Getting current weather information is vital to our mission success," he said. "The brief gives us a detailed picture of what to expect at takeoff, our destination, alternate airfields, and enroute weather throughout the flight."

A detailed picture of the weather can be very specific indeed, according to Sergeant Cisneros.

"If you need the precise wind speed and direction over the North Sea at 33,000 feet for a one hour window, that can be accurate out to 36 hours," he said. "If you just need to know if it will be hot or cold for your cookout though, we can give you a good idea 8-10 days out."

Whether its rain, sleet, snow, or wind speeds at some obscure height and location, the folks at the weather flight know all about it. And knowing is half the battle.