200th Weather Flight supports 2-224th Aviation Regiment during annual training

Airmen from the Sandston-based 200th Weather Flight provide weather briefings and situational overviews June 11, 2013 both in Sandston, and at Fort A.P. Hill to aviators from the 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment.  The 200th WF provided support throughout the 2-224th annual training held June 1-15.  (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Meghan Skrepenski, Virginia Air National Guard Public Affairs)

Airmen from the Sandston-based 200th Weather Flight provide weather briefings and situational overviews June 11, 2013 both in Sandston, and at Fort A.P. Hill to aviators from the 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment. The 200th WF provided support throughout the 2-224th annual training held June 1-15. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Meghan Skrepenski, Virginia Air National Guard Public Affairs)

SANDSTON, Va. — The weather ran the gamut from strong winds, torrential rains, flooding, and possible tornados to sunny and clear skies, for the Sandston-based 200th Weather Flight as the Airmen provided support to aviators from the 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment. The 200th WF provided weather forecasts, daily staff briefings, and individual pilot and crew briefings throughout the 2-224th’s annual training held June 1-15, 2013.

The 200th WF recently established an operational training site at the 224th’s training facilities, where Airmen were on site to provide morning weather briefings along with one-on-one briefings for the 224th’s pilots on what weather they could expect while flying each day during their two week AT period.

In preparation for this year’s annual training, the 200th WF established a semi-permanent weather presence on the airfield by employing their AN/TMQ-53 Tactical Meteorological Observing System. The TMOS is an automated observing system providing real-time wind data, atmospheric pressure calculations, temperatures, surface visibility, cloud cover and lightening location. This system will remain operational for the aviators throughout the year and for weather flight personnel on UTA weekends and when called upon for state active duty.

“Our purpose is to safeguard personnel while protecting military assets as we complete the mission,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher A. Tuck, a combat weather forecaster with the 200th WF.

Tuck spent two weeks during the AT with the 224th, supporting both at the operational training site and at Fort A.P. Hill, Va. where he provided daily mission execution forecasts, pilot update briefs and operational reporting both in person and over the radio.

There was a team of three airmen who provided around the clock operational support throughout the 224th’s AT this year.

“We train diligently to meet the needs of the customers and therefore the mission,” said Chief Master Sgt. Stephen R. Gamache, 200th WF Superintendent. “Sadly, in most cases, a busy forecaster presents as an Airman interfacing with a myriad of computer screens, but this is exactly how we must train. Supporting these real-world customers provides us the most realistic training possible and this joint interface is necessary to fulfill the mission needs of any customer we encounter anywhere on the planet

Several times throughout the training period, the 200th WF team had to advise the pilots not to fly due to high winds, lowered visibility and lightening, as well as tornado watches and warnings. There was flood damage and wind damage across the state from some of the storms that passed through so it was good that we had protected our assets and advised the 224th not to fly, said Tuck.

“We are Joint from the very beginning of our training as we work for both the Air National Guard and the Army National Guard,” said Tuck. “We are flexible because we support both state and federal missions, this makes us one of the premier weather flights in the United States.”

While at Fort A.P. Hill, the 200th WF “Jump Team” provided mission-critical weather briefings and monitored ever-changing weather conditions using a hand-held Kestrel 4500 to assess low-level wind speeds, while also providing visual monitoring and computer monitoring using a Tactical Command Package, which offers the capability to monitor websites providing radar, wind speeds, cloud cover, lightning and precipitation. While down-range, forecasters employed their Portable Meteorological Observing System or PMOS kit, which is a manual version of their garrison weather system in Sandston.

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200th Weather Flight supports 2-224th Aviation Regiment during annual training
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