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557th Weather Wing
ROKAF Weather Wing commander visits 557th WW
The commander of the Republic of Korea Air Force Weather Wing visited 557th Weather Wing headquarters June 20, 2019. The ROK-US weather collaboration meeting, held between Col. Gyun Do Ki, ROKAF WW commander, and Col. Brian Pukall, 557th WW commander, is traditionally held every two years after the respective wings have a change in command. “Ever since I commissioned as a Weather Officer in ROKAF, I always aspired to come visit here,” said Ki. “After 30 years of service, my lifelong dream finally came true. I sincerely appreciate your hospitality.” The mission of the 557th WW, the Air Force’s only weather wing, is to maximize America’s power through the exploitation of timely, accurate and relevant weather information; anytime, everywhere.
Midshipmen visit 15th OWS to learn Midwest weather
Midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy visited the 15th Operational Weather Squadron May 11, 2019, to learn about severe weather and its effects on aviation. An example of cross service partnership, the annual visit allows future naval officers the opportunity to learn about weather phenomena from weather Airmen with real world experience and to discover the similarities and differences between the Air Force and Navy meteorology missions.
Most important weather forecast ever made
Seventy-five years ago, Allied forces began the task of opening the second front in Europe when they landed on the beaches of Normandy, France on June 6, 1944. Weather was a key factor in deciding when and where the invasion would take place. There were competing priorities when selecting the desired conditions for the invasion. “You have to think of all the many varied platforms that would be used to launch the offensive, each one needed certain conditions,” said Kent Sieg, 557th Weather Wing historian. “Bombers needed clear sight to targets. Tides had to be low to expose obstacles, but could not be too low or troops would have too long a distance to get to shore.” Selecting a date that would be the best compromise for these requirements was the challenge. The time determined to be most favorable for an offensive was a full moon. Had Stagg and his team delayed the invasion until the next full moon, June 19, Allied forces would have faced one of the largest storms in the English Channel in almost 80 years and D-Day may have very well failed.
ACC Airmen performing space mission in Australia celebrate 40 years
The Learmonth Solar Observatory celebrated its 40th anniversary April 27, 2019, at Learmonth, Western Australia, giving solar immersion briefings at the facility and holding a partnership barbecue. The observatory is operated jointly by 2nd Weather Squadron’s Detachment 1 and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s Space Weather Services. “Learmonth Solar Observatory is one of the few places that I’ve heard of whose continuing mission has not really changed in 40 years,” said Master Sgt. Cassandra Denton, Detachment 1 NCO in charge of Solar Electro-Optical Network maintenance. “Major commands changed, but the day-to-day mission of being Sun Spies has not.” Learmonth is one of five solar observatories around the world maintained by the 2nd WS. With locations at Learmonth, Australia; San Vito, Italy; Hamilton, Massachusetts, Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico and Kaena Point, Hawaii; each observatory is positioned to keep the sun in view as the Earth turns. Their collective mission is to provide timely space situational awareness by observing and reporting space weather phenomena as well as its relevance to communications and other Defense Department space-based and Earth-based missions.
1 WXG’s virtual training brings real benefits
Airmen assigned to the 1st Weather Group are rolling out virtual reality training tailored to the needs of the Air Force Weather community, allowing them to train faster and smarter. Delivered on March 14, 2019, 1st WXG’s NextGen Environmental Weather Training System simulates setting up and assembling a tactical meteorological observation system, known as a TMQ-53. The TMQ-53 is a portable, automated weather station that can take observations in up to one minute intervals, enabling flying missions around the world. The data it produces can be utilized by a weather observer in the field or by the Air Force Weather community using satellite communications. The TMQ-53 simulation complements other weather VR training products being developed in parallel by the 3rd Weather Squadron at Fort Hood, Texas; the 18th Weather Squadron at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; and the 93rd Air-Ground Operations Wing at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. Coordination on the development maximized the innovation while eliminating a duplication of efforts. “The realism of the VR was incredible,” said Capt. Matthew Perkins, 1st WXG science officer. “I could make out tiny labels and serial numbers on equipment, and aircraft even flew overhead during the simulation. Virtual reality brings unprecedented realism to our training ability when the physical equipment is unavailable. Our deployed Airmen will have greater familiarity with these tools than ever before.”
26th OWS Airmen experience the pilot’s perspective
Two Airmen from the 26th Operational Weather Squadron got to experience the weather they normally only forecast when they donned flight suits and took to the skies at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, Feb. 21, 2019. Tech. Sgt. Chris Bieber, 26th OWS shift supervisor, and Senior Airman McKayla Dejohnette, 26th OWS weather forecaster, received the opportunity to see firsthand how their weather products affect the mission when they took a familiarization flight on two F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft from the 4th Fighter Wing’s 333rd Fighter Squadron. “Seeing how important low cloud forecasts are to their planning process from a firsthand perspective will allow me to stress that importance to the 26th OWS forecasters,” Bieber said. “Doing our job without actually seeing the impact it has on the pilots can convolute the importance of what we do. This is especially true of a feature like low clouds as opposed to something more obvious like thunderstorms.” Based out of Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, the 26th OWS is one of six operational weather squadrons in the 557th Weather Wing’s 1st Weather Group. It provides weather operations support for the Southeastern and Southcentral United States as well as the Caribbean.
2nd WXG innovations: Task Force Bat Phone delivers data Airmen need
This is the second part of a series highlighting innovations by the 557th Weather Wing’s 2nd Weather Group. Using off-the-shelf components, new processes and a little inspiration from Batman, a group of innovative Airmen from the 557th Weather Wing’s 2nd Weather Group are changing how information is transmitted in the field. Exercise Adaptive Lightning’s Task Force Bat Phone is designed to provide data capabilities for on-the-move and first-in situations – the first 72 hours after establishing a new operating location. “Even in the best scenario, such as setting up for a field exercise, there's always a lag between the start of the setup and the establishment of a secure data link,” said Tech. Sgt. Matt Mattern, 16th Weather Squadron NCO in charge of model operations. The Bat Phone leverages existing military radio communication and computer equipment to transmit information without using a formal communications link. Custom-built software retrieves data from Air Force Weather Web Services – known as AFW-WEBS – and packages it for delivery to deployed users in the field using a laptop.
2nd WXG Innovations: 14th WS releases new climate go kit
This is the first of a series highlighting innovations by the 557th Weather Wing’s 2nd Weather Group. After only six months of in-house development, the 2nd WXG’s 14th Weather Squadron in Asheville, North Carolina, introduced their Climate Go-Kit, a new tool for weather forecasters to prepare for operations in Contested, Degraded or Operationally-limited, known as CDO, environments. The go-kit’s development aligns with three Air Force priorities: to drive innovation, restore readiness and cost-effectively modernize. “Go-kits provide climate information about a country directly to the warfighter,” said Master Sgt. Kenneth Elwood, 14th WS systems flight chief. “Users can use the information to help familiarize themselves with the country’s climate; answer planning and general climate type questions; and develop forecasts, to name just a few.” The 14th WS is the Air Force’s only climate operations unit, co-located with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information. The 14th WS collects, protects and exploits authoritative climate data to optimize military and intelligence operations and planning worldwide.
557th WW joins 55th WG for Winter Havoc
The 557th Weather Wing joined the 55th Wing, Offutt Air Force Base’s host wing, for the Operational Readiness Exercise Winter Havoc. Twenty-one Airmen from the 2nd Systems Operations Squadron, 2nd Weather Squadron and 16th Weather Squadron joined approximately 600 other Offutt AFB Airmen for the late January exercise, marking the first time the wing has partnered with the 55th WG for a mass readiness exercise since the 557th WW’s creation in 2015. “The 557 WW demonstrated its capability to deliver ready weather and cyber forces in support of multi-domain operations against any adversary across the entire spectrum of conflict,” said Lt Col. Kenneth Roberts, 2nd Weather Support Squadron commander and 557th WW Crisis Action Team representative for the exercise. This first phase of the exercise focused on pre-deployment preparations, getting Airmen ready to deploy and moving cargo. Phase two will continue in the spring.
17th OWS wins weather squadron of the year
The 17th Operational Weather Squadron has been selected as the Air Force Weather Squadron of the Year for 2018. Located at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, the 17th OWS provides weather operations support throughout the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. One of the squadron’s accomplishments was producing over 9,000 detailed position and intensity analyses in response to tropical cyclones that were active in the region. The 1,200 warnings that were issued gave 17 bases and 53 ships almost two days of advance notice to take protective measures. “We’re extremely excited and humbled to receive this recognition,” said, Lt. Col. Charles Cunningham, 17th OWS commander. “We have an amazing team of Airmen at the 17th OWS, who are laser-focused on conducting world-class weather operations in support of USINDOPACOM.”
25th OWS celebrates 75th anniversary
Surrounded by historic aircraft in the main hangar of the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona, the 25th Operational Weather Squadron celebrated its 75th anniversary Nov. 2, 2018. Originally known as the 25th Weather Squadron, the unit provided weather support to Army and Army Air Corps units operating and training throughout the Northeastern U.S. from an office building on New York’s Long Island.
2 WS shares Halloween down under
On Halloween, nearly 430 people from Exmouth – a town of about 2,000 located on Western Australia’s Northwest coast – visited a haunted house built by Airmen from 2nd Weather Squadron’s Detachment 1. The popularity of the detachment’s haunted house is underscored by the fact that Australia isn’t known for celebrating Halloween, however, its popularity has been on the rise in recent years.
(Commentary) 2nd CWSS helps restore operations after Hurricane Michael
129 miles per hour...that was the last wind speed recorded at Tyndall Air Force Base and the highest official on-land wind report recorded before the weather sensors were shredded as Hurricane Michael made landfall just after noon directly over the Florida Panhandle’s 325th Fighter Wing.The sensors were not the only thing decimated as the rest of
Cyber Airmen “fuel” innovation
Cyber Airmen assigned to the 557th Weather Wing recently teamed together with the Defense Innovation Unit program making changes to how airborne tankers are scheduled. The changes are the direct result of a March 8, 2018, memo from Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, where he stated, “bringing the future faster requires both expanding our culture of innovation and balancing prudent risk acceptance with agile reaction.” That is the goal of the Defense Innovation Unit where members of the military partner with companies that specialize in fields such as artificial intelligence and information technology, to find new solutions to complex problems.
557th WW Airmen find innovative cyber solutions
Innovation is more important than ever. The 2018 National Defense Strategy has called for rapid innovation and to “deliver performance at the speed of relevance.” 557th Weather Wing Airmen have a history of finding ways to innovate, working smarter to save money and deliver new capabilities and their efforts are benefiting the Air Force Weather community and the Air Force at large.
2nd WS Airmen give a voice to weather
Many people check the weather before they start their day; looking for guidance about how they should dress, how their commute may be affected and whether they can expect severe weather. For service members overseas, this can be difficult as their local weather may be presented in a foreign language, in an unfamiliar temperature scale or may not even exist. Four Airmen from the 2nd Weather Squadron at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, provide this service to men and women all over the world by producing weather forecasts for both the American Forces Network and Stars and Stripes. However, broadcasting is not in their blood.
1st WXG holds change of command
The 1st Weather Group welcomed a new commander during its change of command ceremony July 24, 2018, at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. Col. Travis Steen assumed command from outgoing commander Col. Thomas Blazek in a ceremony officiated by 557th Weather Wing Commander Col. Brian Pukall.
2nd WXG holds change of command
The 2nd Weather Group held its change of command ceremony July 11, 2018, at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. Col. Patrick Williams assumed command from outgoing commander Col. Jason Patla in a ceremony officiated by 557th Weather Wing Commander Col. Brian Pukall.
UNL Weather Camp visits 557th WW
High school students interested in meteorology visited the 557th Weather Wing as part of the National Weather Camp program June 12, 2018, at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. The students, who have a desire to pursue careers in weather, are in grades 10 - 12 from high schools across the United States.
2nd WS continues volunteering tradition at veterans’ home
Service members from the 557th Weather Wing’s 2nd Weather Squadron – as well as other wing units – volunteered to assist in hosting Memorial Day ceremonies May 28, 2018, at the Eastern Nebraska Veterans’ Home in Bellevue, Nebraska. The effort has become a squadron tradition which brings together multiple generations of veterans to remember those who gave their lives in service.