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For crying out cloud

54th OSS weather flight provides mission essential expertise

Capt. Nicholas Prosinski, 54th Operations Support Squadron weather flight commander, uses a kestrel to measure wind speed, Oct. 24, 2019, on Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. The 54th OSS weather flight provides timely, accurate forecasts to base personnel so they can plan accordingly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Quion Lowe)

54th OSS weather flight provides mission essential expertise

Airman 1st Class Mya Lewis, 54th Operations Support Squadron weather apprentice, monitors weather models, Oct. 24, 2019, on Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. The 54th OSS weather flight provides timely, accurate forecasts to base personnel so they can plan accordingly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Quion Lowe)

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --

One of many factors that can often be overlooked is the possibility of weather interfering with plans. From weekend plans like a summer cookout, to large-scale military operations, unforeseen inclement weather can really rain on your parade.

The 54th Operations Support Squadron weather flight, however, works hard to ensure base personnel are aware of potential inclement weather and are able to plan accordingly.

Weather forecasters constantly monitor weather conditions and are in frequent communication with the rest of the base to ensure that, when required, everyone is notified.

“During each shift the forecasters to go out and check how the models are performing with what's actually happening,” said Capt. Nicholas Prozinski, 54th OSS weather flight commander. “That is something that happens several times per day. As we go throughout the day we have a series of shift priorities that get knocked out. There is a lot that goes into the final forecast.”

While people are growing more comfortable with technology as time goes on, expert forecasters are still indispensable when it comes to interpreting weather models and charts.

“The models can only be trusted so much,” said Senior Airman Brennan Dettinger, 54th OSS weather journeyman. “You have to take what you know about this area, and use your general weather knowledge and apply it to trends and models. We put it all together to paint one picture of what we think is actually going to happen.”

Forecasters on base take pride in their expertise, playing a critical role in the success of Holloman’s mission.

“Being able to give accurate forecasts to pilots on Holloman and for surrounding airfields is one way I’m proud to support,” said Dettinger. “For example, I recently gave a 314th Fighter Squadron pilot a specific forecast a day ahead of time waring her about conditions that would affect her normal flight routine. She was able to successfully adjust in time in part because of my help.”

Keeping constant communication with the aircrew on base is required for a successful mission. While weather team members are able to monitor the accuracy of their models and charts on the ground, the pilots give them feedback on what the weather looks like thousands of feet in the air. This trust pilots have in the weather flight is vital to creating combat ready air power.

“Being in a single-seat fighter aircraft, every bit of accurate information given to us helps us make timely decisions while flying at very fast speeds,” said Lt. Col. Kirby Sanford, 8th Fighter Squadron F-16 Viper instructor pilot. “These decisions allow us to bring the aircraft home safely each and every time, and enable us to properly train the next generation of fighter pilots.”

The weather flight’s knowledge is not only crucial for pilots, but they play a role in protecting assets all over base.

“We have millions of dollars of equipment at this base and severe weather can greatly damage that and cost the Air Force a lot of money,” said Dettinger. “Also, adverse weather can put people in danger. With our updates we are able to give base members time to protect Air Force assets from damage and safely adjust to the weather conditions.”

The contributions from these skilled Airmen are not taken lightly by pilots, who see firsthand how important the predictions and updates are to mission success.

“They truly are a force enabler, and without their timely and accurate information, the mission would surely suffer,” said Sanford.