09 Mar 2017

Officials say they’re on schedule to open the new home base for the U.S. government’s “hurricane hunter” aircraft before the Atlantic hurricane season begins.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s planes are specially equipped to collect forecasting data as they fly in and around tropical storms and hurricanes. The agency’s aircraft are scheduled to move May 1 to Lakeland Linder Regional Airport in Lakeland, Fla., from MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.

Airport Manager Gene Conrad told The Ledger that up to 80 workers are on site daily rebuilding a hanger to accommodate the large aircraft.

The project also includes a science lab, an operational hub and a maintenance shop. Airport Business Manager John Von Preysing said NOAA’s move brings 110 “highly technical” jobs to the city.

Hurricane season starts June 1.

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