It’s the first time the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has put together an all-female crew for a mission like this one, the organization says.
The recon work requires them to collect data on the storm. So far, Dorian has travelled through the Caribbean and is headed straight for coastal Florida. Weather forecasters say they’re concerned it will intensify into a Category 4 storm by the time it makes landfall.
“#NOAA49 prepares for a Hurricane #Dorian reconnaissance mission for the first all female three-pilot flight crew, featuring Capt. Kristie Twining, Cmdr. Rebecca Waddington, and Lt. Lindsey Norman,” NOAA tweeted Thursday afternoon.
Along with the announcement, NOAA shared a photo of the three women in the cockpit, wearing blue uniforms and headpieces to communicate.
The team took off from Lakeland, Fla., at 1:34 p.m. on Thursday. Nearly seven hours later, they returned after flying approximately 5,875 kilometers, the aviation-tracking site Flight Aware reports.
The hurricane is expected to hit Florida by 11 p.m. Thursday evening. As of now, the storm has reached winds 168 kilometers per hour, making itself a Category 3 hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The historic significance of the organization’s first-ever completely female team isn’t lost on Twitter.
WATCH BELOW: Hurricane Dorian intensifies as it barrels towards U.S.
“Okay, now we can be sure it’ll get done right,” one person tweeted.
Another responded to NOAA’s tweet: “Thank you ladies for keeping us safe. History in the making.” Another commented: “Ceiling shattered,” with a thumbs-up emoji.
Some, however, pointed out that it’s a bit late to only just be putting together an all-woman team.
“This is awesome! However, why is this a thing? Women are super capable,” a Twitter user wrote. “Is there any doubt they can successfully carry out this mission? They are doing their jobs.”
Another tweeted: “This is awesome, but y’all, this is 2019 — why TF is this the FIRST all-female 3-pilot flight crew?”
The hurricane hunters are members of the Air Force Reserve and the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps, one of the seven uniformed services, the NOAA said in a Twitter response.
Flight Aware provides a tracking service to follow the crew’s every move.
Their last flight took place early Friday morning, around 2:34 a.m. EDT and they landed one hour later at Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport in Georgia.
The most recent devastating storm to hit Florida was Hurricane Michael, a Category 5 hurricane that slammed into the area in October 2018. It caused the deaths of 26 people in Florida and inflicted billions of dollars worth of damage on the area.
Dorian expected to hit Florida on Monday.