Whiteman Weather Warriors

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Alexandra M. Boutte
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Every day, Airmen use weather forecasts to determine if they should wear short sleeved blues or their gortex jacket with their ABUs. Since outdoor activities are determined by heavy rain, snow and wind chill, forecasts can be used to help plan ahead for survival purposes.

Decisions based on the weather are made every day that affect the Air Force Global Strike Command 509th Bomb Wing mission based on the weather, and weather forecasts come from only one flight on base: the weather flight.

The 509th Operation Support Squadron weather flight consists of 10 Airmen and provides Air Force and Army installations weather watches, warning and advisors.

"Our most important mission is resource protection," said Staff Sgt. Ryan Watts, 509th OSS weather training NCO in charge. "Resource protection includes everyone from the flightline to the base pool."

Communication and coordination with base-level forecasters and on-site personnel are essential to the mission.

"We work closely with the 26th Operational Weather Squadron at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., to ensure all aspects of the weather are taken into account and ensuring 24-hour coverage," Sergeant Watts said.

The 26th OWS is the U.S. Air Force meteorological squadron responsible for the Southeastern United States. There are six operational weather squadrons and they are the first place a new weather apprentice will report to work alongside a seasoned weather professional and be trained in all aspects of meteorology.

"The 26th OWS was a great stepping stone that provided me with a solid foundation," said Senior Airman Amanda Stephens, 509th OSS weather forecaster. "Since I came here to Whiteman, I have applied and expanded my skill set to be able to provide flight crews and base agencies with the weather information they need to complete their mission."

"We also provide weather support for our Army brothers and sisters, the 442nd Fighter Wing and the 131st Bomb Wing," Sergeant Watts said.

Weather forecasters brief every pilot that flies an aircraft out of Whiteman, either in person or via phone. Forecasters provide a 5-day forecast everyday for wing leadership and attend staff and stand-up briefings to ensure leadership is informed on the weather.

The weather flight creates products for mission planners and aircrews regarding any limiting and non-limiting weather conditions. The flight briefs pilots with take-off, en-route and landing weather for their particular sortie.

"It is very neat to see a part of each mission affected by different weather depending on the aircraft mission," Sergeant Watts said. "While this is an exciting part of the job, it is also the worst part of the job because mission impact is critical."

Airman Stephens said her favorite part of the job is knowing that she is providing a valuable service that directly affects the mission here.

As the pattern of strong weather regimes continues to press through Missouri, the 509th OSS weather flight will continue to protect the personnel and aircraft located here.