Long before satellites carpeted the globe with their all-seeing, all tracking weather eyes, hurricanes and other major tropical storms were identified, located and reported on by ships at sea and observations from remote locations. As often as not, the location of the center, storm size estimate and track was as much chance and good luck as it was application of scientific principles. To be sure, the timeliness of any subsequent reporting was severely handicapped, even with the addition of radio reports. Adding aircraft to the equation began to improve the quality of forecasting with their ability to cover a larger area and provide observations from inside the storm above the surface, adding insight into the life cycle of these great beasts. The first recorded flight into a hurricane was in 1943 by a British pilot flying an AT-6 Texan on a bet – two flights were made into what became known as the “Surprise Hurricane” of 1943. However, it was Navy aircraft, predominantly, that were deployed to track and report on the storms. Because of their great range and endurance, long-range patrol bombers like the Navy’s PB4Y-2 Privateer were the initial platform of choice.
However, it wasn’t until the advent of another Navy program, begun in WWII, that the next level of tracking, reporting and understanding hurricanes came to pass. That advent was the appearance of a second generation of AEW aircraft, specifically the Lockheed WV-2 Super Constellation, that traced their roots to Project CADILLAC II, which were assigned to dedicated weather reconnaissance squadrons. Of these, the best known was VW-4, the Hurricane Hunters. (More here)
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