An Air Force Reserve crew that made an unplanned stop at Martha’s Vineyard Airport to pick up a vintage motorcycle belonging to a crew member has been disciplined, according to a press release.
The crew with the U.S. Air Force Reserve’s 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, 403rd Wing, Keesler Air Force Base, in Mississippi, received both administrative and aircrew qualification–related discipline for misuse of a WC-130J Super Hercules aircraft.
“Air Force Reserve crews must put in flight training time each month to keep their qualifications, and off-station training achieves valid training requirements,” Col. Stuart M. Rubio, 403rd Wing commander, said in the release. “This personal stop was an abuse of government assets. We hold our reservists to the highest standards of conduct, and these actions are not tolerated.”
All aircrew members were downgraded on crew qualifications, and administrative actions have been served, the release states. The names of the crew members were not released.
The large aircraft created quite a stir when it stopped at the Island airport on March 25.
“The five-member crew departed Keesler and landed at Quonset Air National Guard Base, Rhode Island, March 24. The following day, the crew, unbeknownst to 403rd leadership, added Martha’s Vineyard Airport to the itinerary to retrieve a crew member’s 1970 BMW R75/5 motorcycle,” the release states. “The crew then continued their mission onto Mather, Calif., to pick up 403rd Wing equipment that was staged there for atmospheric river mission support, which concluded in March after three months of support. Once leadership was notified of the incident March 27, they grounded the crew at Mather, and sent another crew to pick up the aircraft and crew March 28. The motorcycle remains in California.”
According to the release, the planes are known as “Hurricane Hunters” because they fly into tropical storms to gather weather data for the National Hurricane Center. “During the winter months, they fly winter storms on the East Coast and atmospheric rivers, massive bands of moisture that cause huge amounts of rainfall and flooding, on the West Coast to improve forecasts,” the release states. “To accomplish these missions, the unit deploys to various locations to get closer to these weather systems; thus, aircrews go to various locations to train and operate, and these locations are chosen based on training value.”