AMA with Capt. Ryan Smithies

December, 9, 2020 by
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I have been looking forward to this AMA for quite a while. We had to wait for the Hurricane season to calm down to pencil him in but the day has come. Right now we are having an AMA “Ask Me Anything” with Capt. Ryan Smithies.

U.S. Air Force photo by Jessica L. Kendziorek

Capt. Ryan Smithies is a real-world pilot for the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, also known as the Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters for the 403rd Wing at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. He works as part of a five person whose mission is to perform aerial weather reconnaissance, piloting the WC-130J Super Hercules aircraft into tropical systems and hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the central Pacific Ocean for the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Captain Smithies commissioned in 2016 and completed Air Force pilot training in 2018. Prior to joining the military, his previous background in aviation and weather experience included an operations internship with Delta Airlines Meteorology at Atlanta, Ga., headquarters and an on-camera meteorologist position at KION Monterey-Salinas, California.

Captain Smithies has over 800 hours in the C-130J Super Hercules, flown 19 different storms and has more than 50 hurricane eyewall penetrations.

So cool! You can ask a question right now in the comments below, Capt. Smithies will be around to answer your questions throughout the day. Thank you for participating, this will be a fun one!

Ask a question

Kyle Boas is the Founder of the IFATC Education Group. He is an IFATC Supervisor and Infinite Flight Appeals team member. — More
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Dakota B.
1 year ago

Hello Captain Smithies! Thank you for your service, for taking the time to come and answer our many questions, and for giving us such an amazing opportunity!

  1. How would you respond during an emergency during the flight while in the middle of a hurricane?
  2. What are the 3-5 most important factors to maintain/ remember while flying through storms? What is the highest category that you have flown through? Which storm was the most fun to fly through?
  3. Around how long are your missions? Do you ever have chances to switch out pilots if one becomes too fatigued during flight?
  4. What was the most difficult decision you’ve had to make as PIC (Pilot in Command)? What was the most difficult situation you’ve been in overall?
  5. What aircraft did you fly prior to transitioning to the WC-130J Super Hercules? Which aircraft do/did you enjoy the most?
  6. What is the greatest aviation achievement you’ve had to date?
  7. What lessons have you learned from making mistakes in aviation? (Anything from being on the ground to actual flying)
  8. What actions have you taken in the past years to improve your knowledge in aviation?
  9. What is your definition of a professional pilot?
  10. What were your personal motivations for becoming a pilot?
  11. I myself am currently in the process of applying for the US Air Force Academy. Did you yourself attend? If so, what were the more difficult aspects of Academy life for yourself and those around you? What were some of the easier/simpler? If not, what are the more difficult/simpler aspects of military life in general?
  12. Did you ever break an SOP? If so, when was it done and why did you do it? Would you do things differently if you were able to?
  13. What motivated you to join the military? What do you remember about your first and last days in bootcamp?
  14. What was one of the funniest moments you witnessed in bootcamp?
  15. How did you imagine military life before you joined? What views are different now that you’ve settled in?
  16. What are a few things that you wish civilians and future soldiers knew about military life?
  17. What advice do you have to aspiring pilots and service members?

I’d also like to leave you with this quote, one which I have found to be endearing to, and hits upon, the spirituality of flying; that internal pull in which all aviators feel within their hearts and souls.

“In the wings of the overwhelmingly zipping aircraft; / I ecstatically felt as if I was being spell bindingly devoured; / By a majestically volatile fervor to gallop resurgently; / Throughout the tenure of my diminutively impoverished life.”
Nikhil Parekh

Thank you again for taking the time to engage with our community! Stay safe and Happy Flying!

Capt Ryan Smithies
1 year ago
Reply to  Dakota B.

Hey Dakota!

1) I suppose it depends on the nature of the emergency, but I would likely respond like any other situation: Continue to fly the airplane, hopefully get to an area of less intense weather if possible, and start communicating with the crew to run checklists and solve the problem.

2) Watch your fuel, know your best path out of the storm if the radar fails, maintain geographic awareness, set boundaries for safety-related decisions… those come to mind. I flew Hurricane Iota last month, that was my first Category 5. Most fun? Hurricane Douglas this summer in the Pacific – lots of flying around the Hawaiian islands, low-impact storm, just enough turbulence, and some great sunsets.

3) Most storm flights average 8-12 hours. We try to augment the crew with an extra pilot to enable crew rest, but its not always possible. Sometimes we just have to push through and rest later.

4) Sorry to disappoint, but I’m not an aircraft commander yet. That said, we work together as a crew to problem solve. I’ve had many maintenance issues arise inflight, but the toughest situation was having to miss a tasked fix in Hurricane Dorian as a Cat 5 approaching the Bahamas. It was a high-impact mission. Maintenance was just not on our side that evening, and after nearly 3 attempts to get to the storm, we had to call it off.

5) I flew Cessna 172s, the T-6A, and the T-1A prior to the C-130J. Of course, the C-130 is my favorite! That said, I do sometimes miss having turbofan engines.

6) Successfully graduating Air Force Pilot Training. It’s a special feeling to pin those silver wings after all the hard work involved. Given my family history in the service, it meant even more.

7) I’ve made plenty of mistakes both in and out of the airplane. We all do. There are those that have and those who will. What’s important is that you recognize those mistakes, own them, learn from them, and move forward. It makes you a better pilot.

8) Stay in the airplane, stay in the books, ask questions, and learn from those with more experience. Study, study, study!

9) A professional pilot is more than the ratings or flying jobs he or she holds. It isn’t simply the hours logged. They are a true journeyman of the trade and dedicate themselves to life of learning and always striving to hone their craft of flight through attitude, character, and dedication.

10) My dad was an Air Force pilot. I guess you could say I caught the bug early and couldn’t shake it. It was such a large part of my growing up, I never really considered anything else.
11) Best of luck to you! My path was actually very different. I went to a public university and had no prior military experience before going to pilot training. I wish I could answer your academy questions, but that is not my area of expertise. Military life provides so many resources, benefits, and opportunities that in make life simpler in some ways. In terms of difficulty, military life means sacrifices sometimes. It’s part of what we sign up for though.

12) Nothing specific comes time mind, but in aviation especially, there won’t always be a playbook for every scenario. Sometimes you are forced to make hard decisions on the spot. If you make a mistake, own it, learn from it, and move on.

13) My family has a history of service, and the military offered many great opportunities that aligned with my career and life goals. I remember vividly, yes! How can you forget the sound of those TI boots…haha. Commissioning day was equally as memorable and worth all of the rest.

14) My first day with the guidon, I saluted the TI with my left hand outside the chow hall. Let’s just say that went over well. It made for some great memes though on the flight room wall.

15) As a Reservist from the beginning of my career, my military experience has been and will be different than someone on Active Duty or serving in other branches for that matter. I am not sure I had any clear idea of what I imagined military life would be like – other than very structured maybe. The military training environment was everything I expected it to be, but outside of that military life is quite normal – at least in the Reserves anyway!

17) In the beginning, the path can seem quite daunting and obstacles will inevitably arise long the way. Just remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Work hard, study hard, but take time for you along the way. Work/life balance is important. 

Dakota B
1 year ago

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer all of my questions! It is always a pleasure and privilege to converse with those within the aviation field, especially those with unique AFSC’s! Stay safe out there!

Kgaset
1 year ago

What’s the highest altitude you’ve observed a hurricane from? What’s the lowest altitude you’ve entered an eyewall, and what was the storm strength?

Capt Ryan Smithies
1 year ago
Reply to  Kgaset

10,000ft is the highest (and most common) altitude we will fly storms. Any higher than that and the threat for icing and lightning strikes starts to increase significantly. The Hurricane Center would like us to fly as low as is safely possible for the sake of good data. The lowest I can recall flying a true hurricane penetration was 5000ft. Marco, Nana, and Jerry come to mind.

We will occasionally fly Tropical Depressions or Tropical Storms at 2500ft, but it depends on turbulence.

Anonymous
1 year ago

Hi Captain, Thank you for your service

I just have one question for you today, don’t want to take up too much of your time. How do you stay calm while flying through hurricanes, especially knowing that weather like that is quite unpredictable and could be very dangerous?

Capt Ryan Smithies
1 year ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Personally, I focus on the moment, fly the airplane, trust your training, and channel out the fear of the unknown that creeps in from time to time. The more storms you fly, the easier it is not to get caught up in what the storm may or may not throw at you. When you’re responsible for the safety of others in that environment, you don’t have the option of losing your cool.

Anonymous
1 year ago

Hi there and thank you for your service,

As for me I am interested in commissioning into the Air Force. My main goal is to become a fighter pilot. One thing I was kind of worried about was the G-Force test which I’m pretty sure every Air Force pilot needs do. What is it like, and is there anyway to prepare for it?

Anonymous
1 year ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Ik no expert and have nothing to do with the usaf but you have a diet lots of sleep just stuff you can do in the long run

Capt Ryan Smithies
1 year ago
Reply to  Anonymous

I’ve only experienced high G-forces in pilot training, but good physical and mental fitness, a healthy diet, regular sleep, etc… they all play a role. Take care of you body. It’s the only one you have, and flying can be taxing. For those that deal with high G’s regularly, there are certain techniques employed to help control blood flow and oxygen.

Anonymous
1 year ago

Thank you for the feedback.

Karen
1 year ago

Are Pacific Ocean Hurricanes different in any way than those generating from the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean and Gulf areas?

Capt Ryan Smithies
1 year ago
Reply to  Karen

There can be subtle characteristic differences among the two basins, but meteorologically speaking, they are the same! The same can be said for the name typhoon or cyclone. The only difference is where they form geographically.

Andrew Sneed
1 year ago

Captain Smithies,

It’s a pleasure to meet you sir in this virtual environment. I was at Keesler AFB for my HARM/SARM technical training.

I have two questions. The first question is what is one piece of advice or knowledge you wish you knew before you applied commission as an officer that you would want others who may be considering or who are working towrds commission into the reserve or active services?

My second question is I understand tje value of sim training in the military environment due to my knowledge in my career, do you feel in this commercial style environment that sims like this can be used as a tool to potentially inspire future military aviators?

Thank you for your time sir and make sure you fill out those 781s correctly. 😉

Cheers!

VR

A. Sneed

Capt Ryan Smithies
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Sneed

Hey Andrew, thank you for your service! Haha. Filling out the 781 is an artform for sure.

For anyone considering or working toward a commission, my advice would be to be patient, work hard, find ways to stay motivated, be flexible (flexibility is the key to air power, right?), take care of your fellow airmen, and look out for your people as you climb the leadership ladder. Lastly, you and only you are responsible how far you go in your military career. Yes, there will be obstacles and people who tell you no. It’s on you to figure out how you overcome and move forward. No one else will look after yourself better than you. Put in the work, and the sky is the limit.

I think simulators are a great way to inspire people! I couldn’t tell you how many hours I spent on some of the original Microsoft flight simulators or how much that motivated me as a kid. It’s no substitute for the type of simulators used in the real-world training environment or flying itself, but absolutely – I think it’s a great way to inspire people.

Andrew Quaid
1 year ago

Do you work with an Officer named Green? I met him overseas once, but I can’t remember what hurricane hunter he was with.

Capt Ryan Smithies
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Quaid

Our previous commander at the 53d was Lt Col Green. He’s no longer with the unit, but perhaps he’s your guy.

Anonymous
1 year ago

That’s the one. I remember we were both “Who Dats”, and were in crumby moods after the Saints lost to the Vikings a few seasons ago.
Thanks for the work you do! Have a Great Day!

Ethan R
1 year ago

Your job must be fun, heavy commends for doing it. What inspired your love for aviation and meteorology? As well, I have interests in both of the following and was wondering what are some resources you used to study those fields.

Capt Ryan Smithies
1 year ago
Reply to  Ethan R

Ethan, thanks for the question! I consider myself lucky every day that I get to do this job. I totally understand the dual passions, and it was tough for me to navigate at times. My dad was an Air Force pilot, so that interest began early for me. I think it’s natural for aviation buffs to take an interest in weather too – they go hand in hand. Growing up on the Gulf Coast and living through a handful of hurricanes sealed the deal for me, I think.

In high school, I didn’t have any resources outside of my own hobbies and self-taught study. I think high school science tracks are a great way to start out, where they are offered at least. I chose to pursue a college degree in meteorology, and having access to a large meteorology program was an excellent resource – the connections made, the physical resources available, the mentorship, the education, etc. It set me up for success in any weather-related career field I chose to pursue. On the aviation side of things, I sought internships in aviation meteorology and was fortunate enough to get one in the airline industry. Beyond that, I started civilian flight training on my own and doing my research to navigate a path forward. At the end of the day, reach out, ask questions, and do your homework. Do that, pursue your passions, work hard, and the rest will fall into place.

Zack G
1 year ago

First off, thank you for your service.
Secondly you must hear this a lot but what is the sensation like when you break the storm wall and enter the eye. Also, what is the wildest experience you’ve had going into a storm

Capt Ryan Smithies
1 year ago
Reply to  Zack G

Hey Zach, thanks for the support! It’s hard to describe any way other than humbling. Not every hurricane eye is textbook or picture-perfect, so when it does happen, you take a moment to appreciate what’s around you (and breathe, haha). Sometimes eyes are messy, turbulent, or too small to have that luxury… but yeah, the relief of breaking out of a nasty eyewall into a clear eye is eerily calming and awing. You certainly develop a healthy respect for the power of these storms.

Wildest experience? …I always think back to Hurricane Humberto in 2019. I was flying it at night over the open Atlantic. We flew into a nasty batch of rotating thunderstorm cells. Within a few seconds my head went nearly to my knees then back to the headrest as I floated off the seat (and that was with shoulder straps tightened). The rapid swings in vertical velocity were crazy. It was wild.

Adrian McNally
1 year ago

Hello Captain. I am currently getting my PPL (In high school. Graduating in two weeks). I plan on becoming a flight engineer in the reserve at McConnell (I may sign reserve contract in a few days) or Whiteman while I attend college (Kansas State) and get the rest of my ratings. This is so I can rack up my flight hours and experience become a top candidate for a pilot slot at the base. Do you think this path is good? I hope that doing well on the AFOQT and 1000+ hours of flight will help me become a top choice. I hope that I can become a reserve pilot+ airline pilot. Maybe I may love the AF so much that I will eventually want to go active duty.

Capt Ryan Smithies
1 year ago
Reply to  Adrian McNally

Hi Adrian, thanks for the question! Already logging flight time and still in high school… you’re off to an impressive start! Early congrats on graduating by the way, that’s awesome. It sounds like you’ve thought this one through, and it’s a great plan in my opinion. Being a reservist while in college is an excellent opportunity to earn tuition assistance, gain valuable military experience, really get to know the unit you join, and set yourself up for success. I’m a little biased, but Reserve/Guard is absolutely the way to go, and already being a well-known, respected member of a unit is a great way to earn a pilot slot when the time comes. Even if you decide to go elsewhere, having that foundation and military network establish will only help you. The good news is that you have time. Stay focused on the grades, don’t be afraid to change your mind down the road or take a detour, pack some patience for the inevitable speed bump or two, keep faith, and you’ll get where you want to go. Good luck!

Zhopkins
1 year ago

Hey Captain.

  1. What is it like flying the C130 into hurricanes?
  2. How often do you fly into hurricanes?
  3. Do you get to bring personal items on the C130?
  4. What did you have to do to become a C130 pilot?
Capt Ryan Smithies
1 year ago
Reply to  Zhopkins

Hey there!

1) Most flights, it’s not very much different than flying a C-130 through the clouds on a standard rainy day with a few bumps thrown in. On the other end of the spectrum, I liken it to the most intense car wash you can imagine. It gets very loud, especially if you get into hail. If it’s really turbulent, add in the sensation of a free-fall theme park ride as you ride the thunderstorm updrafts and downdrafts.

2) Hurricane season is June 1st – November 30th, with peak season occurring in August, September, and October. When it’s all said and done, each full-time squadron member probably averages 20-30 storm flights in that time period.

3) We try not to bring too much extra on the plane with all of our gear, but a cooler full of good food is a must for long storm flights! A good book or pillow isn’t a bad idea either if you’re lucky enough to get a rest period.

4) It was a long road of training and several years in the making. A college education, private pilot civilian flight training, military exams, Air Force officer training, Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training, C-130J training, and a lot of studying, self-motivation, and perseverance.

H. Clay Aalders
1 year ago

Thank you Captain for your service.

Can you describe the technical parameters of a typical hurricane penetration, ie how fast are you flying, best altitude, that sort of thing. Or if it varies, what goes into the decision?

Capt Ryan Smithies
1 year ago

Thanks for the question Clay! At baseline, we fly as low as is safely possible because the surface data is most desirable. For low-level invests, we fly as low as 500′ AGL (VMC only). In tropical storms and hurricanes we fly 29.92, at 2500′ MSL, 5000′ MSL, or 10,000′ MSL, much of which has to do with weather data collection and standard atmospheric levels. We chose the altitude based on storm intensity, data requirements, previous mission ride reports, terrain avoidance near islands, etc. General rule of thumb: the stronger the storm, the higher we fly.

A typical hurricane profile is flown at 10,000 MSL (29.92). If we opt for lower and feel unsafe, then we climb as needed. We fly around 180 KIAS, which is our turbulence penetration speed. It also works out for ideal fuel burn and a good pace for data collection/work flow in the back. In stronger storms, the altitude can be tricky. Because we’re flying an equal pressure surface, we often find ourselves in a steep descent going into the eye and a steep climb leaving the eye – ending up as low as 8000′ AGL in the center in some cases with strong storms. Beyond that, it’s a outbound leg, a crosswind leg, and inbound leg… rinse and repeat.

Michelle Hoen
1 year ago

This must be such an exciting job! So my question is what’s the most harrowing experience you have had while piloting into a hurricane.

Capt Ryan Smithies
1 year ago
Reply to  Michelle Hoen

I have a couple turbulence stories that will probably stick with me for a few years to come, and those moments can be harrowing. While flying Tropical Storm Nestor in 2019 though, we flew through a line of thunderstorms that was producing lightning at a rate of ~1 flash every second or two for quite a while. It was in the middle of the night and we took a few hits, luckily without issue. We usually don’t see a lot of lightning in tropical systems, so that may be my most uncomfortable flight at least.

MIchelle Hoen
1 year ago

That does seem intense, I can’t believe lightening was coming in that fast. Thank you for answering. I love to watch all things related to climatology, and weather patterns. Of course, when it comes to hurricans and storms I am riveted. It’s really cool to hear about it first hand from someone in your line of work. Thank you so much!

Will G
1 year ago

Hey Capt. Smithies!! First off, thank you for everything you do. Hurricane hunting has always fascinated me and im glad to get this wonderful opportunity!!

  1. How many hurricane hunter(s) and aircraft are in the air tracking the same storm?
  2. What is the best part of flying the C130?
  3. What safety procedures are involved in ensuring a safe and effective flight?

Thanks a lot!

Capt Ryan Smithies
1 year ago
Reply to  Will G

Hey Will, much appreciated!

1) On the Air Force side of things, the 53rd has a fleet of 10 WC-130J aircraft. The NOAA Hurricane Hunters are a separate entity – they operate 2 P-3s and a Gulfstream IV.

2) The C-130J is a tried and true tank. It’s forgiving, powerful, and it’s just a blast to fly. I think the HUD (heads-up display) is my favorite thing about the plane though.

3) We take the same safety precautions as any other flight crew would, really. As it pertains to the mission… ensure the crew is mission-ready prior to flight, make sure the airplane is in good shape, prep the flight deck and cargo compartment for turbulence, plan and brief safe altitudes to fly each mission, maintain good ATC communication for safe airspace operation, analyze terrain and airspace constraints, brief an emergency egress strategy from the storm environment, and know your best divert bases. Those are some of the big things we touch on.

Will G
1 year ago

Thanks for the response! I love flying the hurricane recon patterns in the sim whenever there’s a storm brewing. These are some great take-aways and I really appreciate them!!

Balloonchaser
1 year ago

Good Morning Capt. Smithies!

1.) How do you guys simulate hurricanes when doing training flights (or is it all simulator training)?

2.) Have you ever feared your life while flying through a hurricane? If so, why so; and how did it feel?

3.) Pilots in aviation always say ‘My job isn’t really a job.. it’s just a whole lot of fun’. Would you say that phraseology carries over to your position with the 53rd Squadron? Do you guys mix work with fun when flying through; or is it mainly all work – no fun?

4.) Question of the Day: Does pineapple belong on pizza?

Thanks in advanced for answering my questions. Pleasure to get this chance to ask you a few questions.

Capt Ryan Smithies
1 year ago
Reply to  Balloonchaser

Good morning!

1) Truthfully, we can’t! Of course, we fly weekly training flights to maintain proficiency in the airplane and simulate storm procedures, checklists, etc. That said, the only way to truly get a feel for the storm flying is by doing the real thing. For that reason, we have extensive in-storm training requirements before crew members are able to fly missions without an instructor.

2) I think we’ve all had flights that elevate the heart rate and strike a little fear in us! I’ve certainly had my fair share of those moments – severe wind shear, extreme turbulence, airplane malfunctions, etc. Flying is inherently dangerous, but when you have those moments, you have to stay composed, relay on your training, and keep your mindset in the right place.

3) We all recognize the importance of the mission and know how to separate the two when appropriate, but you have to have little fun, right? 12 hours is a long time to be on an airplane. It’s a great group of people at the 53rd. We’re a family, we love our job, and we have a good time doing it.

4) Pineapple. All. The. Way. 😉

Capt Ryan Smithies
1 year ago
Reply to  Kyle Boas

Hi Kyle! Thanks for having me for the AMA.

1) Great question! Most people probably don’t realize this, but ATC coordination is often the most frustrating and/or difficult part of storm missions. Almost always, we file a single flight plan to include the en route portion, a delay in the storm environment, and the en route leg home. A lot of work has been done behind the scenes with various agencies in recent years regarding the storm environment airspace, to help both us and the controllers. In an ideal scenario we coordinate for a ~200nm radius “weather reconnaissance area” with a block altitude in the lower levels, which allows us own navigation in the storm environment. Obviously, that doesn’t exactly work well if you have a weak system off the coast of Florida and a normal day at Miami Center. So in short, we use the radios like everyone else to make requests/adjustments as needed and work with ATC best we can, even if it means struggling through HF frequencies in the middle of the Atlantic. We also have a satellite phone onboard, which is tremendously helpful when we’re unable to reach ATC on the radios.

2) It’s actually less common to be riding through sustained, bad turbulence in storms. We fly a published speed best suited for the airplane to endure the rough air, which also puts less physical stress on the crew. You try to avoid the worst areas on the radar or climb to a safer/smoother altitude, but sometimes you can only do so much. Tighten the seat belt straps, stow anything loose, and just get through it.

3) Most memorable… My Laura flight in August for sure. I wrote more about this flight in the question below. One thing I didn’t mention though was the completely clear, stadium-effect eye, at night, with stars and moon lit up above, and lightning all around the eyewall. Unforgettable. Honorable mentions: Tropical Storm Nestor (2019) for insane lightning, Hurricane Humberto (2019) for most severe turbulence, and Hurricane Dorian (2019) for being my first hurricane penetration and a historical storm at that.

Finn-14
1 year ago

Hey !
My question is, what’s the most dangerous storm you have flown into, and how did you and the crew maintain safety whilst still completing your task ?

Capt Ryan Smithies
1 year ago
Reply to  Finn-14

It’s tough to categorize each storm because they’re all so different, and even the same storm flight can evolve rapidly. In terms of danger, you have to take each storm seriously (regardless of size or presumed strength) and constantly evaluate the changing threats. For me, I have to say Hurricane Laura this year – specifically the landfall flight. At the time, the storm was strong, still-intensifying CAT 4 making landfall in southwest Louisiana. And while the storm intensity made for a wild ride at times, what made it more dangerous in my opinion were the external factors… minimum crew on our fourth 10+ hour mission in 5 days, crew fatigue, in the middle of the night, equipment problems, an intense storm with strong turbulence, added pressure from a high-impact storm, and requests to penetrate the eye as many times as possible (meaning we stayed in the worst weather). How did we maintain safety? Well, we stick to our training. Aviate, navigate, communicate. You fly the airplane first and foremost, mitigate risks throughout the mission, communicate with each other, solve problems as they arise, and know your limits. Eventually you make it through and get home safely.

Jason
1 year ago

First off i just wanna say thank you for your service. For my question how long are you guys airborne for while tracking a storm.

Capt Ryan Smithies
1 year ago
Reply to  Jason

Thanks Jason, and thank you for your support! On average, we’re typically airborne for 8-12 hours on storm missions. It depends on timing/profile requirements from the Hurricane Center for a given storm, en route cruise time to/from the storm, fuel burn, etc. With external fuel tanks and a lower fuel burn in the storm environment typically, we can stay in the air for long time.

Jason
1 year ago

Thank you for the response as I’ve always taken a big fascination it to what you guys do in the 53rd be safe up there