Story by SrA Caleb Vance on 07/30/2019The 111th Weather Flight, Texas Air National Guard, is supporting the 24th World Scout Jamboree held July 22-Aug. 2, 2019, at Summit Bechtel Reserve in Mount Hope, West Virginia.
The five Airmen from Ellington Joint Reserve Base in Houston, Texas are attached to West Virginia National Guard's Task Force Aviation, providing weather data to the aviation assets, as well as providing a five day forecast to the Joint Interagency Task Force.
The aviation assets dedicated to the WSJ depend on accurate weather data to conduct their flying operations and have specific thresholds concerning clouds, visibility and thunderstorms on when they can and cannot fly. It is their function to provide them with the information necessary for them to make decisions that ensure the safety of the aviation community supporting the Jamboree.
"It takes a tremendous amount of coordination when working in a joint environment, we have to tailor our weather forecasts to match the functions of the different entities involved," said Lt. Col. Mark Wiley, 111th Weather Flight commander. "As a result, we have to learn how weather impacts all aspects of their operations and that is different for all the groups involved. We don't give a general, 30% chance of thunderstorms today' type of forecast, it's more a very specific forecast designed and briefed to meet the different needs of those we support."
The Airmen from Houston have also attended the 2013 and 2017 National Scout Jamborees held in West Virginia.
"For us, this is very much like a typical military operation since we are attached to an aviation task force, while the mission may be a bit different, the overall situational awareness and safety aspects do not change at all," Wiley said. "It is truly a unique opportunity though, to be involved in an environment such as this where youth throughout the world are participating in such a worthwhile endeavor."
In addition to the opportunity of providing support for the Jamboree, the Airmen also talked about how wild and wonderful the state of West Virginia is.
"We're able to take several helicopter rides while we're here to be able to see the terrain and scenery from a couple of thousand feet up," Wiley stated. "It truly gives a unique perspective on the natural beauty of West Virginia!"
The 111th's support has been vital with various weather fronts moving through the area, from the week leading up to the Jamboree to the end. Heat waves causing drastic temperature changes, lightning riddled thunderstorms and other weather events have caused challenges that could affect the mission of Task Force Aviation.
"The support they've provided for this operation has been vital to our success," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Harold Nicely, Task Force Aviation commander from the West Virginia National Guard. "They've provided us with everything we've needed to get our birds in the air and complete every mission we're called to do."