Air Force Reserve Staff Sgt. Corban Lundborg, assigned to the 4th Combat Camera Squadron, Charleston, South Carolina, reported for a unit-training weekend (UTA) when he received word that he would be rerouted for another mission.
Hurricane Irma, the largest recorded hurricane in the Atlantic was approaching land with wind speeds consistently more than 185 MPH and Air Force Hurricane Hunters based out of Keesler, Mississippi were tracking the superstorm.
Staff Sgt. Corban Lundborg and Staff Sgt. Kyle Brasier were tasked to fly into the eye of the superstorm with the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron aircrew to document the mission.
The two Airmen scrambled out of Charleston Air Force base to catch an immediate flight out of Colombia, South Carolina so they could catch the next flight into Hurricane Irma the following morning. While on route to the airport, traffic from fleeing Florida residents was so bad that they missed their flight.
The two refused to call it quits on the mission and they rerouted to Charlottesville, North Carolina to catch a night flight to Biloxi, Mississippi. They however arrived to the airport too late to check in their bags for that flight, and had to explain their situation to the airline, luckily an exception was made on their behalf.
After a crazy scramble through the Charlottesville airport the two made their flight just as the door was closing. The flight would give them just enough time to get to Keesler Air Force Base for the mission the following morning.
Once they arrived to their newly assigned mission in Mississippi everything was in place for them to fly a 12-hour reconnaissance mission with the Hurricane Hunters. The first flight was a success and the weather information gathered was enough to upgrade the hurricane to category 5 before making landfall on Cuba.
The imagery captured by the photojournalists made national headlines and was published around the world.
The two photojournalists flew another 12-hour mission the following day with the same squadron but with a new aircrew collecting similar data.
The Airmen flew an American flag through the eye of what is now known as the largest recorded hurricane in the Atlantic. The flag was then brought home by the two photojournalists to the 4th Combat Camera Squadron to celebrate a successful and historic mission.