50 years ago: Hurricane Hunter visits Cayman

Last month, storm trackers on board a U.S. Air Force WC-130J Hurricane Hunter flew into Owen Roberts International Airport on their public awareness tour ahead of the Caribbean’s hurricane season. Hundreds of members of the public and schoolchildren toured the plane during its brief stopover in Cayman.

The visit echoed one 50 years ago, when another Hurricane Hunter touched down in Cayman. The May 24, 1967, front page of The Caymanian Weekly, a precursor to the Cayman Compass, carried the following story:

“On Monday morning, a Super-Constellation ‘Hurricane Hunter’ of the U.S. Navy which has multiple radar and electronic equipment was at our airport for about three hours.

“The visit is part of joint U.S. Navy and Essa Weather Bureau pre-hurricane trip through the Caribbean for the purpose of familiarizing the Navy crew with facilities that might be used by the Hurricane Hunters during the hurricane season ahead, and to permit Weather Bureau officials to coordinate arrangements and preparation for the coming hurricane season.

“The plane was open for inspection and members of the public as well as scholars from the Sec. Grammar School with Mr. H. Horsley in charge, were very impressed in the tremendous amount of equipment on board. The plane can fly for 22 hours without refuelling and the radar operates over a radius of 200 miles.

“On this flight were 18 Navy personnel and seven concerned with the meteorological side. There are six aircraft in the Squadron which is the only Navy Weather Squadron which is the only Navy Weather Squadron on the East Coast of the U.S.

“Prior to coming to Cayman, the plane, starting from Jacksonville, called at Miami, Nassau, San Domingo, San Juan, St. Maarten, Barbados, Trinidad, Curacao and Kingston. From here it returns to Jacksonville via Miami.

“The Hurricane Hunter, a U.S. Air Force WC-130J aircraft, landed with crew at Owen Roberts International Airport between stops in Honduras and Turks and Caicos. The visit is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s annual tour of Latin America and the Caribbean.

“Hundreds of schoolchildren and members of the public were invited to tour the plane and view its weather-tracking tools used to monitor activity from Africa’s western coast to Hawaii.”

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