Jun 5, 2023 - News

This New Orleans dad flies into storms as a Hurricane Hunter

Photo shows John "Jaxxx" Gharbi standing in front of the Air Force Reserve's Hurricane Hunter aircraft. He's wearing his uniform jumpsuit and aviator-style sunglasses. It is a sunny day with blue skies at the Lakefront Airport in New Orleans.

John "Jaxxx" Gharbi is a member of the Hurricane Hunters, a weather reconnaissance team based of out Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. He lives in New Orleans. Photo: Carlie Kollath Wells/Axios

John "Jaxxx" Gharbi is a New Orleans dad who flies into storms for a living as a member of the Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters.

Why it matters: The Hurricane Hunters investigate tropical systems and gather data that the National Hurricane Center uses to make more accurate forecasts and models.

  • "The fact of saving even one life is impactful," Gharbi said at a recent hurricane awareness event at Lakefront Airport.
  • He's an instructor navigator, which means he works with the pilots to plan routes into and out of the storm in a massive WC-130.
Photo shows the Gharby family smiling in front of a Hurricane Hunter WC-130. Dad and the two children are wearing matching flight suits.
John "Jaxx" Gharbi, wife Mallory, RJ (who will be 2 this month) and infant Ollie live in New Orleans. Photo: Courtesy of John Gharbi

What he's saying: When he's not at work, he's trying to eat out and enjoy life with his young family.

Mardi Gras krewe: He rides in Bacchus on the Bacchagator, a float he says has many other retired and active Hurricane Hunters on it. His wife, Mallory, rides in Iris.

Unexpected part of this job: "Other than the fact that we fly INTO a hurricane? … We want to collect [the data], but we don't want to kill ourselves."

Hardest part: "I have two boys under 2 and a wife. I hate when I'm not around. FaceTime makes that easier."

Poboy order: "Fried shrimp. Dressed. Crystal hot sauce."

Snoball order: "Can it be a cocktail? A frozen 75 from Superior during oyster happy hour."

Learn more about the Hurricane Hunters and the important work they do.


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