Savannah – The 165th Airlift Wing and the Air Dominance Center at the Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport are supporting Hurricane Maria relief through a hub and spoke operation. Aircraft are both bringing in supplies to Savannah and transporting them out to Puerto Rico and other locations in the Caribbean. Air National Guard aircraft and personnel from multiple states including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, New York, and West Virginia. Most of the aircraft operating out of Savannah are C-130s (both H and J models), but one C-17 came in today as well.
- DAWG 87 (C-130H, 165th AW)
- DAWG 88 (C-130H3, 94-6705, 165th AW)
- CASTLE 33 (C-130H, 90-1057, 166th AW)
- CASTLE 77 (C-130H, 84-0206, 166th AW)
- DERBY 61 (C-130H, 91-1233, 123rd AW)
- JESSE 94 (C-130H, 90-1794, 139th AW)
- JESSE 95 (C-130H, 90-1795, 139th AW)
- MALIBU 17 (C-130J, 05-1466, 146th AW)
- MALIBU 19 (C-130J, 07-1468, 146th AW)
- RHODY 32 (C-130J, 99-1432, 143rd AW)
- SKIER 02 (C-130H, 83-0487, 109th AW)
- YANKEE 02 (C-130H, 74-2069, 103rd AW)
- DECOY 29 (C-17A, 94-0070, 167th AW)
The relief flights are easily monitored on VHF and UHF in the Savannah area. You can catch the flights coming and going on local air traffic control frequencies as well as the 165th AW and Air Dominance Center operations frequencies. Most of the aircraft have been reporting to MARIA Ops on the Air Dominance Center ops frequency 237.000, but a few have reported on 225.750, which is the 165th AW Ops frequency.
- 124.675 – Jacksonville Center Jekyll Low
- 132.925 – Jacksonville Center Allendale/Savannah Low
- 119.100 – Savannah-Hilton Head IAP Tower
- 120.400 – Savannah Approach/Departure
- 125.300 – Savannah Approach/Departure
- 225.750 – 165th Airlift Wing Ops
- 237.000 – Air Dominance Center Ops; “MARIA Ops” and “TEAL Ops”
- 173.5625 – 165th Airlift Wing
In addition to the C-130s doing relief operations, WC-130J Hurricane Hunter aircraft from the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron are working out of Savannah-Hilton Head IAP for flights into Hurricane Maria as passes off of the east coast. At least four of the WC-130Js are or have been at Savannah: 97-5305, 97-5307, 97-5308, and 97-5309, flying as TEAL 7# and 8#. They can be caught on the same frequencies as the relief aircraft but will call TEAL Ops instead of MARIA Ops. Today’s Hurricane Hunter flights have been:
- TEAL 71 (WC-130J, 99-5309, 53rd WRS)
- TEAL 73 (WC-130J, 99-5309, 53rd WRS)
- TEAL 74 (WC-130J, 97-5305, 53rd WRS)
- TEAL 81 (WC-130J, 98-5308, 53rd WRS)
An Army communications unit, the 63rd Expeditionary Signal Battalion, has also deployed equipment and personnel to Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria so devastated the communications infrastructure in Puerto Rico that it is almost impossible to communicate not only outside of the islands but within as well. Units such as the 63rd ESB and amateur radio operators that are being asked to volunteer in Puerto Rico will be able to establish and provide communications that are needed to facilitate relief operations. REACH 0532 (C-17A, 90-0532, 62nd AW) arrived at Hunter AAF in the early hours of this morning and departed again shortly thereafter, I believe it was part of the 63rd ESB’s deployment.
The aircraft and flights I listed above are just today’s activity. Based on the needs in Puerto Rico and other US territories in the Caribbean, we can expect the hub and spoke operation in Savannah to be in operation for the foreseeable future. The need in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean is great and as a Georgian and Savannahian, I’m proud that our Guardsmen and Savannah are playing such a key role in bringing aid to those in need.