With the outer bands of Hurricane Irene beginning to lash the southeastern coast of North Carolina, Coast Guard fliers and search-and-rescue personnel flew out of Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., this morning, and we’re in hurry-up-and-wait mode at the North Carolina Air National Guard Base, adjacent to Charlotte International Airport. Another C-130 crew is staged in Raleigh.
The crews and SAR personnel moved to get their aircraft out of harm’s way. But as the storm passes to the northeast, they’ll be the first to fly over the damaged areas — anywhere from South Carolina to Martha’s Vineyard, officials say. One or both C-130s will be tasked for either search-and-rescue ops — they’ll try to spot stranded mariners for follow-on H-60 rescue efforts.
Despite the conditions, the C-130 crew here in Charlotte is on alert for immediate deployment. So for now, down time for hotel check-in, chow and crew rest. Calm before the storm.