Nelson, Rubio praise decision to move hurricane planes to Lakeland
Florida Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio praised a decision that will keep the federal government’s “Hurricane Hunters” fleet in Florida, though MacDill lost out to Lakeland on a 10-year lease.
“Keeping NOAA’s Hurricane Hunters and the nearly 100 employees who work with them here in the Tampa Bay area for at least the next decade is certainly good news for the entire region,” Nelson said. “Having these planes based in Florida keeps them closer to the storms they track and will help NOAA’s scientists better predict where and when a storm may hit.”
Said Rubio: “Although I’m disappointed the Hurricane Hunters fleet will be leaving MacDill, I’m pleased it will be staying in Florida and the disruption to crew members and their families will be relatively minimal. The Hurricane Hunters play a critical role in getting the best information possible to help people prepare for hurricanes and tropical storms. Their work has literally saved lives, and I thank the crew for their ongoing commitment and service to our country.”
NOAA Aircraft Operations Center will be located at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport. "AOC serves as the main base for NOAA’s fleet of nine specialized environmental data-gathering aircraft, including the agency’s three 'hurricane hunter' planes," the agency said in a release.
The proposal submitted by the City of Lakeland was the lowest-priced technically acceptable offer NOAA received, according to the release.