BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
The sun never sets on the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, but that doesn’t mean it’s sunny wherever and whenever its aircraft are flying.
To keep the mission going, Beale’s weather flight provides accurate and timely weather information to pilots.
“Our primary mission is to provide weather support to Beale and its assets throughout the world,” said Capt. Douglas Ferguson, 9th Operations Support Squadron wing weather officer. “This involves putting out forecasts so people know what the weather is going to do. It also involves putting out watches, warnings and advisories for inclement weather, which may hamper operations.”
Forecasting weather is a fundamental part of the flight’s job and ensuring the accuracy of said forecasts is vital.
“We use a multitude of different tools to forecast the weather such as Air Force Weather Web Service. Using AFW-WEBS allows us to get weather data from anywhere on the planet,” said Ferguson. “In order to ensure our forecasts are accurate, we coordinate with other weather units and have weather sensors out on the airfield to gather real-time weather data, so we can verify our forecasts.”
They are also responsible for relaying the forecast information to pilots before and during any local flying operations.
“We directly brief aircrew on weather conditions surrounding Beale, which they may encounter during flight so they can avoid the area,” said Senior Airman Jennifer Smith, 9th OSS weather technician. “We also update the official observations, so the tower can communicate it to the pilots during flight.”
Weather flight doesn’t only play a role in local flying operations; certain members work closely with 12th Reconnaissance Squadron and provide weather support for RQ-4 Global Hawk missions around the globe.
“Working with the RQ-4 is different because it is unmanned. Normally, the pilot can look out the window and avoid any obvious weather hazards, with the Global Hawk we need to be even more vigilant to make sure they don’t run into anything which can potentially damage the aircraft.” said Staff Sgt. John Marrero, 9th OSS weather forecaster. “This means we have to be more in depth with our products and more alert of what is going on in the atmosphere; even slight variations can turn into storms hours later.”
In providing weather support to 9 RW aircraft the flight plays a significant role in Beale’s Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance mission by keeping pilots up to speed with the latest weather information locally and globally.