Third graders at Central Intermediate were excited when guest speaker, Lt. Col Jeff Ragusa, the chief pilot of the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron (Air Force Reserve unit in the 403rd Wing at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi), visited to share some stories. The mission of the Hurricane Hunters is to recruit, organize and train assigned personnel to perform aerial weather reconnaissance. They provide surveillance of tropical storms 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. The unit also flies winter storm missions off both coasts of the United States.
To perform their mission, the Hurricane Hunters have 10 WC-130J aircraft. These Super Hercules aircraft are equipped with palletized meteorological data-gathering instruments. The WC-130J is the next generation "Hurricane Hunter" designed to continue weather reconnaissance well into the 21st century. The 53rd WRS is authorized 20 aircrews. Fifty-nine unit members hold air reserve technician positions. The rest of the squadron is made up of Air Force Reservists. WC-130Js carry a basic crew of five: pilot, co-pilot, navigator, flight meteorologist and weather reconnaissance loadmaster.
Lt Col Ragusa's presentation covered science, math, geography, social studies, and military experience. Lt Col Ragusa demonstrated the proper way to salute. Central Intermediate thanks Lt Col Ragusa for taking the time from his very busy schedule to visit and interact with the students.