Thunderstorm Project Historical Marker
Dedicated Sunday, May 5, 2013
The marker is located at the Lytle Creek Greenway on Davids Drive, Wilmington. Pictured above (L-R): Scott Hickman, Lori Kersey Williams, Mike Kurz, Kay Fisher, Lt. Col. Robert S. Wacker, Mayor Randy Riley, Ken Haydu
The Thunderstorm Project
Thunderstorms were widely recognized as aviation’s most serious weather hazard. In 1945, Congress mandated and funded a large-scale, multi-agency meteorological study to investigate the causes and characteristics of thunderstorms. The Thunderstorm Project was a cooperative undertaking on the part of four federal agencies: The Weather Bureau, Army Air Force, Navy and the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (the precursor to NASA).
The first phase of the project was carried out near Orlando, Florida. The project was then moved to the Clinton County Air Force Base (present site of the Wilmington Air Park) for the second phase of study, May—September 1947.
As part of the study, pilots from the CCAFB All-Weather Flying Division of the Air Material Command flew a vertical stack of 5 radar-equipped airplanes (spaced approximately every 5,000 feet from 5,000 to 25,000 feet altitude) simultaneously penetrating thunderstorms and passing over a surface network of weather stations that monitored the surrounding environment.
The storms were detected and monitored by a large surface radar which also provided guidance for planes and balloon releases.
- The War Department gave the Project priority second only to the Bikini atomic bomb tests.
- Nation’s first large-scale scientific study of thunderstorms and multi-agency meteorological project mandated and funded by Congress; and first weather research study in which radar and airplanes had a central role.
- Demonstrated that radar could be used to detect the most dangerous parts of thunderstorms and guide airplanes around them.
- Density of observations had never been attempted before, and set standards for similar projects to come.
- All analysis, computation and plotting of data performed by hand and completed by May 1949.
- Theories and findings became cornerstone of today’s understanding of thunderstorms and related weather phenomena.
Ohio Historical Marker
The Ohio Historical Marker program was designed to identify, commemorate and honor important people, places and events that have contributed to our State’s rich history. This program, administered by the Ohio Historical Society, is an educational tool, informing residents and visitors about the significance of Ohio’s past. An Ohio Historical Marker for the Thunderstorm Project was dedicated on May 5, 2013. The marker is located on Davids Drive in Wilmington.