Savannah – By yesterday, the WC-130J flights to Hurricane/Tropical Storm Florence (now Tropical Depression Florence) had ended and rescue/communications/coordination flights to the South Carolina/North Carolina area were underway. A US Air Force E-8 JSTARS and E-3 AWACS supported rescue/response efforts yesterday along with a US Customs and Border Patrol P-3 AEW. US Air Force HC-130s seemed to be playing a role as well, and a Joint Base Charleston-based C-17 was going back and forth between Moody AFB and Charleston. Over the next couple of days, I’ll be trying to keep an ear on what I can and hopefully post a few more reports; what follows is yesterday’s activity.
Yesterday morning, I caught an E-8 JSTARS, KOMODO 04 (E-8C, 96-0043, 116th/461st ACW), en route to the area. While most of its operations were out of my listening range, I did catch its backend STRIKESTSAR making calls for radio checks on 345.000, a USCG frequency, and 166.4625 ($001), DHS Common, while on its way to the area. Just after lunch, it aerial refueled with NATION 01 (KC-10A, 86-0035, 305th AMW). The two aircraft made initial contact on a NORAD frequency, 260.900, then moved to an aerial refueling frequency, 238.900, for refueling operations.
An AWACS also operated in the area yesterday. Using ADS-B Exchange‘s tracker, I saw SENTRY 25 (E-3G, 79-0001, 552nd ACW) orbiting in the Greenville, NC area throughout much of the afternoon. It was always too far to the north to be within my listening range, so I didn’t catch any communications from it.
One of Customs and Border Patrol’s P-3 Airborne Early Warning aircraft also worked in the area affected by Hurricane Florence yesterday. OMAHA 42 (P-3 AEW, N142CS, CBP) headed to the area in the afternoon and remained in the area until around sunset. They told Jacksonville Center that they would be orbiting in the area to provide communications relay services. Once again, I caught them en route to the area, but they were operating too far away for me to any operational traffic from them.
Joint Base Charleston seemed to be back in operation by yesterday afternoon, if not for regular operations then definitely for Hurricane Florence related operations. A C-17 and two HC-130s flew in and out of JB Charleston on what seemed to be Florence related flights: REACH 1099 (C-17A, 02-1099, 437th/315th AW), KING 15 (HC-130J, 09-5708, 79th RQS), and KING 03 (HC-130N, 90-2103, 211th RQS?). I was able to hear all three checking in with PALMETTO Ops on 349.400. It seemed that KING 15 may have gone to Charleston from Moody AFB. REACH 1099 seemed to have made two trips from Moody AFB to Charleston and back. KING 03 seemed to go to Charleston from Patrick AFB and then flew from Charleston to Moody AFB. Both REACH 1099 and KING 03 were heard with Moody AFB’s ANGEL Ops on 228.225.
For part of the day yesterday, I was in Brooklet, GA, but I was able to use the mobile station, including the recording capabilities of its Home Patrol 2 and TRX-2 to record activity so I could log it later. While on the road between Savannah and Brooklet, I noticed a Motorola team from Savannah Communications seemed to be en route for Florence support and there were a lot of electrical line trucks and tree crew trucks headed that way as well.
Please keep those in the areas affected by Hurricane Florence in your prayers. The storm has dumped a lot of water and still has a lot more left. The storm is moving very slowly, exacerbating the flooding. The Carolinas, especially North Carolina, are going to need a lot of help. For all of us along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, remember – but for the grace of God, it could easily have been us. Try to find a way to donate or help out in some way.