Weather flight plays crucial role in flying operations

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Nathanael Callon
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Weather plays an important factor in the accomplishment of a variety of missions on base; preparations for two fighter squadrons, construction workers and school bus dispatchers are dependent on the weather forecast.

The 52nd Operations Support Squadron Weather Flight is a key piece of the puzzle that decides if base operations will continue or be delayed from the weather forecast.

"Our main mission is to provide timely, accurate and tailored weather information to the fighter squadrons on base," said Capt. Angela Radden, 52nd OSS Weather flight commander. "We also provide other units at the 52nd Fighter Wing with this information as well, since the weather affects almost every mission on base."

The weather in Germany can change within a matter of hours due to the many mountain ranges and valleys in the region. The changes in elevation make frequent fog, low clouds and precipitation a challenge that the weather flight faces on a daily basis.

There are many roles that contribute to the successful forecast of weather for the pilots.

"When it comes to the flying mission, we have to tailor the forecast for each unit's scheduled flying and constantly monitor their route so they are accurately informed from their pre-mission briefings to when they final land back at Spangdahlem," Captain Radden said.

One weather technician monitors the overall weather picture while another technician prepares and briefs the mission-specific weather forecast, which includes every location the planes will be flying.

Humidity also affects weapons systems on the aircraft, which could lead to improper readings in a deployed environment.

"Whenever we brief the pilots before they take off, we explain to them how their electronics will react to the absolute humidity in the air," said Tech. Sgt. Michael Humphreys, 52nd OSS weather technician. "What may look normal through the pilot's eyes could look completely different through their pods. The density of the air determines the range and capabilities of the weapons systems."

Accurate weather forecasts are critical to successful flying missions, and the weather flight provides direct support for the 480th and 81st Fighter Squadrons.

"We are responsible for ensuring that our pilots are safe when they fly, and we take that job very seriously," said Staff Sgt. Andrew Camp, 52nd OSS weather technician. "I know that my briefings will be a deciding factor for operations, and the safety of the pilots is our number one priority."