Hurricane Hunters show off their shiny, new look

The first of the 10 WC-130J Super Hercules aircraft returned to Keesler Air Force Base, Miss.,...
The first of the 10 WC-130J Super Hercules aircraft returned to Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., April 5, with the shiny paint job and the historic “Weather” tail marking.(WLOX)
Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 8:38 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - The planes used to shape your hurricane forecasts are getting an updated look.

The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, you know them as the Hurricane Hunters, are returning their aircraft to the pre-2007 glossy grey paint scheme. The first of 10 planes with the updated paint job arrived back at Keesler Air Force Base Tuesday.

“Prior to 2007, the squadron’s aircraft all had glossy gray paint, which was used on weather reconnaissance aircraft, primarily for its durability, longevity, and efficiency,” said Lt. Col. Erik Olson, 53rd WRS Director of Operations. “It also differentiates our platform from ready-for-combat C130 aircraft and especially ‘other’ reconnaissance platforms, since our missions are strictly for peacetime weather data collection.”

“The glossy gray paint scheme held up much better to the weathering elements during hurricane season than our current tactical gray paint scheme does,” said Senior Master Sgt. Stephen Connors, 403rd MXS Fabrication Flight Chief. “And when it comes to maintenance and touch up painting, the glossy gray lasts longer.”

“Going back to the glossy paint saves us money and manpower,” said Connors. “Also, the damage caused during the weather flights to the tactical gray paint would sometimes go all the way down to the metal, where the same type of weather damage to the glossy gray paint doesn’t have the same effect.”

Along with the new paint, the title on the back is changed from saying hurricane to weather. It’s a reflection of the wide range of work the planes and their crews do.

“That’s really just to showcase the fact that we have an all year round weather mission here. We’re looking at winter storms in the winter time, doing atmospheric river flights off the west coast in the winter and of course we do the hurricane season,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Campanile, Commander of the 403rd Operations Group.

The rest of the fleet will be painted and given maintenance updates at Robbins Air Force Base in Georgia. It’s a project that will take seven years to complete.

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