Where are they now?

DHS graduate dreams of hurricane hunting

By Heather R. Breaux

September 06, 2006 at 2:13 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

DHS alumnus, Second Lt. Doug Gautrau of 26th Operational Weather Squadron, stands in front of an infared satellite image of Hurricane Katrina in the briefing room of the 26th OWS.
Photo by Airman 1st Class Brandon Kusek, The Bombardier
DHS alumnus, Second Lt. Doug Gautrau of 26th Operational Weather Squadron, stands in front of an infared satellite image of Hurricane Katrina in the briefing room of the 26th OWS.
In 1992, 2nd Lt. Douglas Gautrau of the Air Force’s 26th Operational Weather Squadron, along his father, tracked the course of Hurricane Andrew.

It was Gautrau’s first-ever attempt to map a hurricane, and the event consequently sparked an interest in him to educate himself on the storms.

“Hurricane Andrew in 1992 was the first hurricane I ever tracked,” he told Brandon Kusek in a recent interview for the Air Force’s weekly newpaper, The Bombardier. “Since then, I’ve been curious about hurricanes and wanted to learn more.”

Gautrau, a lifelong resident of St. Rose, graduated from Destrehan High School with honors in the spring of 2000 and enrolled as a freshman into the University of Louisiana-Monroe to pursue a degree in Atmospheric Science.

ULM was the only university in the state where he could earn the degree that would aid him in reaching his goal of hurricane hunting.

In 2004, Gautrau graduated from ULM and commited himself to training at the Air Force Officer Training School in Montgomery, AL because only Air Force Reservists can become hunters.

There Gautrau achieved the status of second lieutenant and was stationed at the weather squadron on the Barksdale Air Force Base as an active duty weather officer.

On Sept. 26, Gautrau will become a first lieutenant and has been approved for early dismissal from the training program to become a full-time active reservist serving as an aerial reconnaissance weather officer for the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron at Kessler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss.

Gautrau also told Kusek that he looks forward to predicting hurricanes and can not wait to get up close and personal to the storms.

“I’ve tracked well more than 150 hurricanes,” said Gautrau. “The ultimate hurricane job is to fly through it and see its physical structure first hand. I can’t wait for that adrenaline rush.”




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