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Hurricane hunters, not a job for faint of heart

Some say it's like riding roller coasters

MIAMI​, Fla. – If someone is looking for a job that’s not for the faint of heart, hurricane hunters may be a good choice.

Potential hunters need a strong stomach and strong mind to fly in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s G4.

Lt. Cmdr. Jason Mansour pilots, the gulfstream G4, nicknamed Gonzo,  one of three hurricane hunter aircrafts.

“Every hurricane has its own personality You can have a category one hurricane that you think will be small, but its intensifying and hungry, so it could give you a lot of bumps,” Mansour said. “Or a category five and the think it will be severe, and it’s a stable flight,because it stabilizes.”

From the moment someone squeezes into the G4, they'll notice everything is built in or bolted down for some seriously bumpy rides.

A five point seat strap is very robust. Just ask flight director meteorologist Ian Sears.

“I’m there, sitting, writing, trying to get my messages together to send to the National Hurricane Center.

I’m not really focused on what is about to come at us, and the next thing I know theG-force is pushing me down, and I have a metal desk, and I come close to eating my metal desk,” Sears said.

When a storm threatens and warnings are in place, hunters fly into the storm at least twice a day, collecting data for up to eight hours at a time.

Hunters can see exactly what is happening at the time it is happening in the real world. That has a great impact positively on the hurricane model.

Their tools include a Doppler radar on the tail, and dropsondes, lightweight tubes, that freefall strategically into the storm.

This tells the hurricane model from out aircrafts what information it needs about what’s going in the hurricane environment, including things like wind speed, direction, temperatures, humidity and dewpoint.

During an average flight, about 30 dropsondes are released. Each one costs about $700. It may sound like a lot, butwhen talking about someone’s life and property, it’s definitely worth it.

They also bring much improved forecasts days ahead of landfall, a way to improve the intensity forecast, track forecasts so meteorologists can make sure that all the people in harm’s way can be well prepared.

Keeping the hurricane hunters safe meant limitations, but hunters can launch P3’s and fly them really low in a hurricane in areas where people shouldn't be because of safety issues. Flying as low as 200 feet, the unmanned aircraft, named Coyote, will record data from areas within the storm that are yet to be discovered.

Maybe hunters will be able to understand the interaction between when the ocean is giving the energy to the hurricane and get that understanding what’s going on there.

Hunters said it’s a fantastic life.

They see themselves as guardians and protectors, because they put themselves in harm’s way for the greater good.

So the hurricane season is here. The crew is ready.