WASHINGTON, D.C., June 5, 2017 –- (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Rep. Dennis A. Ross (R-FL-15), Senior Deputy Majority Whip, today spoke at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) ribbon cutting ceremony for its new Aircraft Operations Center (AOC) facility at the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport.
Rep. Ross has been an active supporter of NOAA’s relocation to Lakeland Linder since the beginning of 2016, after the announcement that NOAA would need to vacate its hanger at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa by July 1, 2017. NOAA announced last November that it was relocating its aircraft fleet from MacDill to Lakeland Linder.
This nine-plane fleet includes three hurricane hunters, which offer a vital service to the State of Florida by flying into tropical storms and hurricanes, and measuring their intensity and forecasting their paths. Under the leadership of Airport Director Gene Conrad, Lakeland Linder has become a strong community partner throughout Lakeland and Central Florida.
Lakeland Linder, centrally located on the I-4 corridor between Tampa and Orlando, operates with an 8,500-foot runway, precision approach, an Air Traffic Control Tower, Crash Fire Rescue and heavy maintenance on the field. Due to its inland location, Lakeland Linder is protected from many hurricane force winds and already serves as a logistical staging area for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the State Emergency Response team.
Rep. Ross’ Speech as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you, Gene, for that introduction, and more importantly, for your hard work and dedication to Lakeland Linder and our entire community. It is because of your leadership and passion that Lakeland Linder has become a vital partner throughout our town and Central Florida. Your commitment to our community and its people is appreciated beyond measure.
“I now would like to welcome and congratulate Admiral Score, Captain Silah, Captain Hann, and the rest of the team here on this amazing facility!
“AOC serves as the main base for NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations’ (OMAO) aircraft fleet and provides capable, mission-ready aircraft and professional crews to the scientific community.
“These aircraft have and will continue to benefit not just Florida, but the country as a whole.
“Locally, the Gulfstream and “Hurricane Hunter” aircraft don’t have far to fly if a hurricane develops in the Gulf of Mexico or off the Atlantic Coast, as we saw last year with Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew.
“And as hurricane season has just begun, we can all rest easy knowing that these aircraft are nearby and ready to do some amazing work to help and protect us.
“Data collected during hurricanes by these aircraft help forecasters make accurate predictions during a hurricane and help hurricane researchers achieve a better understanding of storm processes, improving their forecast models and, ultimately, our safety.
“These Hurricane Hunters aren’t restricted to the Southeast, either. In January, in its first major deployment since undergoing an extensive overhaul and upgrade, ‘Kermit’ departed for Ireland to support a NOAA Satellite and Information Service mission called ‘Ocean Winds,’ a fascinating multi-year project to improve our understanding of satellite-based ocean surface wind measurements.
“Operating nationwide, additional aircraft further support a wide array of environmental studies, including marine mammal population studies, shoreline change assessments, and water resource and snow surveys.
“In addition to adhering to OMAO’s mission “to safely deliver effective Earth observation capabilities, integrate emerging technologies, and provide a specialized, flexible, and reliable team responsive to NOAA and the nation,” these aircraft and officers are often put into action responding to unpredictable events, many putting their lives on the line.
“For instance, following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, aerial images of disaster-torn areas—taken by NOAA aircraft—helped residents and emergency workers verify the condition of their homes, bridges and roads during a devastating time for millions of people.
“I know the men and women of the NOAA Corps and AOC will continue to embrace this selfless mission and never hesitate to respond to unforeseen, and often dangerous, events.
“Your critical work impacts and informs so many lives and decisions not just in Central Florida, but across our nation. For that, we thank you.
“You can rest assured that my colleagues and I will fight to ensure you have the necessary tools and resources to conduct your important work.
“And I know that my hometown and this Lakeland Linder community will embrace our new neighbors for at least the next five years, but hopefully much, much longer.
“As we officially hold this ribbon cutting, I look forward to a strong partnership for many years to come. Congratulations, and welcome to your new home!”