Had to snap a quick selfie before entering the gates of the Keesler Air Force Base!
Photographer Jeff Renfroe and I had already had a "full day" at this point, but the excitement was only beginning. We were headed into the Air Force Base!
Lobby at the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron's building.
"Through these doors walk the world famous Hurricane Hunters" sign in the lobby.
Crew members loading up equipment for flight, including dropsondes and the launcher.
Schedule for the Hurricane Hunters
Signs in the lobby of the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron.
Slide from the pre-flight presentation regarding the dropsondes we would be launching during our trip.
Pre-flight presentation from the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron.
Can you tell we're excited? We were stuffed in the back of a van taking us to the plane!
On the floor in the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron's lobby. How cool?!
Part of our pre-flight presentation
The artwork in the lobby before loading onto the plane was very cool, too.
Let's do this... I was shaking with pure excitement!!
Here we go! Boarding the plane...
Boarding the WC-130J on Saturday, August 30 at 3PM CDT.
These folks mean business! They hand you motion sickness bags if you've never been on a flight before or if you're worried about getting nauseous.
Motion sickness bag up close - thank goodness no one didn't had to use them!
Navy researchers setting up their station to study water temperature with depth.
We had to wear ear plugs for the entire 12+ hour flight because of how noisy the plane is inside.
The Weather Officer sits at the front of the plane, behind the cockpit, and faces backwards.
The view from my seat -- Jeff was getting video of the Weather Officer. The Load Master sits on the opposite side and operates the dropsonde launcher.
Interviewing Lt. Col. Sean Cross in the WC-130J's cockpit.
Post-interview with the pilot and I was still amazed that this was actually happening.
Jeff needed a picture in the cockpit, too!
Learning the ropes with Lt. Col. Sean Cross in the cockpit as we passed over the Florida peninsula.
Flying over the eastern side of Florida near Melbourne; about 1+ hour into our 12+ hour flight.
Tracking our plane as it moved off the east coast of Florida.
Photographer Jeff Renfroe doing what he does best!
Wind speeds increasing as we neared Hurricane Dorian's outer raindbands.
View from the very back of the plane where the Navy's buoys are launched.
Research buoys deployed by the Navy. They detect water temperature with depth in and around a storm.
Sunset as we traveled farther east away from the Bahamas and neared Dorian's eye.
In the eye of Hurricane Dorian: Blue skies above and cumulonimbus surrounding us on all sides!
Photos from the inside of a hurricane's eye don't do the experience justice!
Most of the flight is automated, but the navigator in the cockpit draws our flight by hand on a map.
The center of Hurricane Dorian around 10:00 p.m. You can't tell in this photo, but there was a clear night sky above us with tons and tons of stars. You could also see lightning, which would light up the dark cockpit.
Lightning captured in the eye of Dorian.
The Weather Officer's computer screen showing a significant drop in pressure as we entered Dorian's eye.
View from the cockpit at night.
The Navigator's spot in the back of the cockpit.
Radar as we were passing through the eye of Hurricane Dorian.
The flight was VERY cold! I should've brought a heavier jacket!
Honored to have learned from the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron and thankful for this patch as a nice memory.
We made it back safe and sound, ready for some sleep after a 12+ hour flight.