Frequently Asked Questions
Why aren't NOAA's Hurricane Hunter planes torn apart in storm?
Planes are generally not destroyed by strong winds while in flight. Airliners routinely fly in jet streams with winds exceeding 150 mph over the U.S. during the winter. It's the shear, or sudden change in horizontal or vertical winds, that can destroy an aircraft, or cause its loss of control. That's why NOAA's Hurricane Hunter aircraft don't fly through tornadoes. In a like manner, NOAA pilots and crew routinely (but never casually) fly in the high-wind environment of the hurricane and don't fear it tearing the plane apart. However, they are always monitoring for "hot spots" of severe weather and shear that they can often identify on radar and avoid if it's too severe.
How do I become a NOAA Corps aviator?
The NOAA Corps has three primary annual competitive selection boards for acquiring aviators:
- Inter-Service Transfer (IST). Officers commission directly into the NOAA Corps from their prior uniformed service agency. Depending on the aviator's aircraft history and FAA (equivalent) qualifications, they may be selected to operate any aircraft in the fleet.
- Basic Officer Training Course (BOTC). The NOAA Corps may select pilots immediately upon their completion of BOTC to report directly to aviation training. These selects will typically begin their NOAA aviation career on our Twin Otter aircraft.
- Fleet-to-Aviation. A presently serving mariner (one who did not get selected at BOTC or has decided to transition to aviation at a later period in their career) may compete for a pilot position via Fleet-to-Aviation Selection Board. These selects will typically begin their NOAA aviation career on our Twin Otter aircraft.