MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. --
Bundled from head to toe in thick layers of clothing, Team Minot Airmen brave bone-freezing temperatures as low as -40 F. To help Airmen prepare for extreme weather the 5th Operations Support Squadron weather flight works around the clock to provide accurate weather updates for all base personnel.
The 5th OSS weather flight is responsible for forecasting and monitoring changes in weather to help Airmen ensure aircraft and assets are protected from severe weather.
“The primary duty of the weather flight is to ensure the safety of operations, aircraft and personnel on base,” said Tech. Sgt. Randy Schilling, 5th OSS NCO in charge of airfield weather operations.
As part of their mission, weather flight Airmen analyze weather conditions, prepare forecasts, issue weather warnings and brief weather information to pilots.
“Weather flight watches over satellites, radars, and multiple sensors to find thunderstorms, blizzards and other meteorological events,” said Schilling. “We issue warnings and advisories to alert base agencies if it is a threat and to ensure our Airmen are safe.”
Airman 1st Class Errol Petgrave, 5th OSS weather journeyman, believes that weather flight is a big part in mission safety.
“Weather flight is an important part of the base,” said Petgrave. “We predict weather patterns to help pilots, security forces and everyone else on base so they can prepare.”
Helping Airmen accomplish their daily tasks is important for weather flight because without proper precautions, it would be challenging for others to operate to the best of their abilities.
“Part of our mission is to make sure that both the 5th Bomb Wing and the 91st Missile Wing are equipped with all the information they need to make informative decisions based on the weather,” said Schilling.
Petgrave stated that they’re experts at using various types of equipment such as laser range finders, satellite imagery and kestrels to locate weather patterns and forecast weather events.
Weather flight Airmen are also trained to examine weather in real time without gear in case of an equipment failure.
“Our forecasters are also trained observers,” said Schilling.” “Observing is physically going outside and ‘reading’ the sky and able to tell exactly whats going on atmospherically.”
Using these skills and equipment in their arsenal, Petgrave believes it’s essential to mission success.
“Weather affects almost everything we do,” said Petgrave. “It's important to use all these tools, notify the base and help ensure mission.”