u a n C a r l o s ("Huracanero")
P r a d a s - B e r g n e s
WP-3D's have flown into the most severe weather nature has to offer
and we do it on purpose. What is good weather to us is very bad weather
to all other aircraft ...Our research has significant economic results
and saves lives, what more could I ask?"
I initially came to work with the AOC as a co-op (ed. note: intern) when I was a student in Miami in 1989. The purpose of the co-op program was to allow me to acquire practical skills related to my university studies. After a brief exposure I was hooked on flying in the hurricane research field. I stayed with the program as a permanent employee and continued my studies as work permitted.
In 1994 Congress consented to the National Hurricane Center's request for a high altitude jet to perform research previously beyond our capabilities. I observed the progress of the jet (G-4, or Gulfstream IV) program with hopes of becoming the Tech Crew Chief on that aircraft. In January 1996 I was appointed to the position.
As Tech Crew Chief of the G-4, I am responsible for mission readiness of all aircraft research equipment. Included in my responsibilities are the training and coordinating with other technicians in the operation and maintenance of these systems.
The aircraft systems include but are not limited to numerous air data collection systems, a deployable atmospheric sounding system, a deployable water temperature measuring system, standard as well as Doppler radar and a sophisticated main computer system for collection, storage and dissemination of data to other stations throughout the aircraft as well as via satellite to ground stations. Operation and maintenance are performed both inflight and on the ground.
I gained the experience necessary to perform as Tech Crew Chief of the G-4 by assisting in the operation and maintenance of equipment on both of the WP-3D hurricane hunter aircraft. (Ed. note: LFSTORM flies aboard "Kermit" during Hurricane Dennis, and "Miss Piggy" during "Operation Mountain Storm"-both seen in program 1.) For many years the WP-3D aircraft have penetrated hurricanes from altitudes of a few hundred feet up to approximately 20,000 feet. The aircraft gather data that eventually lead to the saving of lives and property by providing better prediction of storm paths. It is hoped that the G-4 will add a new dimension to this effort. In support of other missions, I have flo
wn with the WP-3D's to investigate tornadoes, atmospheric ozone, winter storms, sub-tropical weather systems and any other atmospheric conditions that the scientific community require.
The WP-3D's have flown into the most severe weather nature has to offer and we do it on purpose. What is good weather to us is very bad weather to all other aircraft. I have several additional duties. The AOC is constantly upgrading and modifying our existing electronic research equipment to provide better service. As a Tech Crew Chief and electronics technician I work side by side with our engineers to identify problems areas and make modifications to both hardware and software. This is a hands-on job. I may be soldering one minute and writing a new program the next. Other duties include SED, AOC NASR Safety Officer and I am also a certified Emergency Medical Technician.
I have recently completed a course at the University of South Florida to become the AOC UNIX System Administrator. As you can see there is nothing mundane about working at the AOC. It is the most rewarding vocation of my life and I hope to continue to perform this function for many years to come. There is great satisfaction that what we are doing is for the ultimate good of many people that live in hurricane prone areas of the country. The hurricane and other research we accomplish are for the good of everyone personally and all of us as a nation. Our research has significant economic results and saves lives, what more could I ask?
spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocre minds. The
latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit
hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence."