Contact: NWS San Francisco Bay Area, 831-656-1710
Marilu Trainor,
Barbara McGehan
NOAA 2001 - R225
February 20, 2001

The NOAA WP-3D "hurricane hunter" aircraft will be open to the public on Feb. 24 during the just-announced PACJET Community Appreciation Day and Forum at the Monterey Airport. Monterey's U.S. Representative, Sam Farr, will participate in the forum held at the Million Air Monterey facilities on the airport.

The project is called PACJET, Pacific Landfalling Jets experiment, and is a collaborative effort between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research and the National Weather Service, Naval Postgraduate School, Desert Research Institute, U.S. Weather Research Program, other government and university entities.

The public is invited to attend the PACJET Forum starting at noon where the scientists will announce preliminary findings about their most recent winter storm research project. Following the forum, the public can meet the scientific team who has been flying into hazardous storms along the West Coast for the past month. Tours of the aircraft and other demonstrations are planned during the afternoon.

The P-3 is crewed by a highly skilled team of pilots, meteorologists, engineers and technicians, including NOAA Commissioned Corps officers, from NOAA's Aircraft Operations Center in Tampa, Fla. More than 20 scientists from throughout the country have been aboard the plane and have flown directly into the Pacific Ocean storms. The experiment has been based in Monterey, Calif. since Jan. 20 and will conclude Mar. 3, 2001.

"This is the second scientific experiment we have conducted in the Monterey area. Our PACJET Community Appreciation Day and Forum gives us the opportunity to say thank you to those who have been so supportive of both projects," said Dr. Marty Ralph, the project's principal scientist. "We've had requests from many groups interested in our weather research, about the aircraft and the experiment. The afternoon's activities gives individuals, youth groups, and families an opportunity to learn about weather in an 'up close and personal' way.

"When we were here in 1998 to study El Nino, many people asked if they could see our flying laboratory and learn first-hand what we've been discovering about the interaction of the ocean and the atmosphere. We've looked at our upcoming flight schedule and have now declared

a 'down day' for Feb. 24. We want to take this afternoon to say thank you to the community. What people in the area have been seeing and hearing are the sights and sounds of science in action and this is their chance to see the aircraft and meet with us."

Cong. Sam Farr from Monterey and other officials are expected to participate in the PACJET Forum that will kick off the event. The public is invited to attend the 12 noon forum where Farr, Ralph and others will describe the PACJET missions and preliminary findings. From 12:30 p.m. until 4 p.m., the experiment's scientists will narrate video taken aboard their recent missions and the aircraft's crew will demonstrate how the instruments are used during flight.

NOAA officials expect people from nearby areas to take advantage of this rare West Coast opportunity to see the P-3 and come to Monterey. "We understand it is short notice, but it will be very educational. The entire Monterey community has been very supportive and we encourage them to take advantage of our program on Saturday," Ralph said.

There is no cost to attend the events which take place near the Million Air Monterey terminal, 100 Sky Park Drive, and adjacent to the Monterey International Airport. Officials suggest attendees car pool for easier parking. Take exit Hwy. 1 at the Monterey Airport/Monterey-Salinas Highway (Hwy. 68), go east on Olmsted Road, left on Garden Road to Sky Park Way and follow signs to designated parking on the airport.