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Weathering RED FLAG-Alaska 16-1

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joey Putis, an 18th Operations Support Squadron (OSS) weather technician assigned to Kadena Air Base, Japan, checks weather conditions to build a briefing slide, May 4, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Putis works with members from the 354th OSS to deliver accurate weather conditions to pilots participating in RED FLAG-Alaska 16-1 from Eielson and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley Nicole Taylor/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joey Putis, an 18th Operations Support Squadron (OSS) weather technician assigned to Kadena Air Base, Japan, checks weather conditions to build a briefing slide, May 4, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Putis works with members from the 354th OSS to deliver accurate weather conditions to pilots participating in RED FLAG-Alaska 16-1 from Eielson and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley Nicole Taylor/Released)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Lisa Rogers, a 354th Operations Support Squadron (OSS) weather forecaster apprentice, records sky conditions, May 4, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Members from the 354th OSS and 18th OSS from Kadena Air Base work together during RED FLAG-Alaska 16-1 to deliver current weather conditions to pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley Nicole Taylor/Released)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Lisa Rogers, a 354th Operations Support Squadron (OSS) weather forecaster apprentice, records sky conditions, May 4, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Members from the 354th OSS and 18th OSS from Kadena Air Base work together during RED FLAG-Alaska 16-1 to deliver current weather conditions to pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley Nicole Taylor/Released)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Rex Akins, a 354th Operations Support Squadron (OSS) weather technician, uses a Kestrel 4500 to capture weather conditions, May 4, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The 354 OSS weather flight records and passes along weather information to augmentees from the 18th OSS to build briefing slides for pilots during RED FLAG-Alaska 16-1. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley Nicole Taylor/Released)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Rex Akins, a 354th Operations Support Squadron (OSS) weather technician, uses a Kestrel 4500 to capture weather conditions, May 4, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The 354 OSS weather flight records and passes along weather information to augmentees from the 18th OSS to build briefing slides for pilots during RED FLAG-Alaska 16-1. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley Nicole Taylor/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Cody Howk, a 354th Operations Support Squadron (OSS) weather technician, uses a range finder to check visibility, May 4, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The OSS plays an important role during RED FLAG-Alaska 16-1 to ensure pilots know the exact weather conditions when they perform sorties. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley Nicole Taylor/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Cody Howk, a 354th Operations Support Squadron (OSS) weather technician, uses a range finder to check visibility, May 4, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The OSS plays an important role during RED FLAG-Alaska 16-1 to ensure pilots know the exact weather conditions when they perform sorties. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley Nicole Taylor/Released)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Alaska’s weather can change in the blink of an eye, and although weather conditions may not always be clear, one team ensures pilots are not clouded on what the weather will be like once they’re up in the air.

Members of the 354th Operations Support Squadron teamed up with augmentees from participating units during RED FLAG-Alaska to observe and report weather.

“Our operations tempo is much higher during the exercise and we couldn’t complete the RED FLAG mission without the help from other units,” said Staff Sgt. Cameron Schneider, the 354th OSS NCO in charge of airfield operations. “If we had to cover this by ourselves, we would be working 16 hour days, so we are really grateful for the assistance.”

While the home station weather flight records and passes along the weather information, augmentees from Kadena Air Base, Japan, build slides to brief the pilots before each sortie.

“Our job is to support between 12 and 20 flights for Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and Eielson,” said Staff Sgt. Joey Putis, an 18th OSS weather forecaster assigned to Kadena Air Base, Japan. “The pilots can’t take off without us, so the pressure to do our job perfectly is always there.”

Putis uses the slogan, “Big bubble, no trouble,” which means there’s a bubble of high pressure around the area that makes for a clear day, pilot’s ideal flying condition. The first days of RED FLAG brought rain, but this isn’t the worst weather an aircraft can experience in the Alaskan elements.

“The nastiest thing the pilots might encounter here in Alaska is icing,” said Putis. “This is when cold air combines with precipation to build up ice on an aircraft, which can affect its ability to fly. The pilots from Kadena don’t normally see weather like this, so it is important that we deliver as accurate of a forecast as possible because these pilots’ lives are in our hands.”