GEORGE WINTERLING'S SHEMYA SCRAPBOOK
1953

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Originally from New Jersey, George can recall the day in May 1937 when he spotted the ill-fated Hindenburg in the air near his home prior to its fiery destruction. He came to Jacksonville when he was 10 years old, in time to witness aviation history being made. Living near the Naval Air Station, he saw the PBY seaplanes in the St. Johns River and SNJs, Hellcats, Avengers, and Corsairs in the sky.

Upon completion of high school, he joined the U.S. Air Force in 1950 where he became acquainted with meteorology in the Weather Observers School at Chanute AFB in Rantoul, IL. Following a year at Turner AFB in Albany, GA, he studied at the USAF's Intermediate Meteorology School at Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State University) he remembers the day in a classroom under the football stadium when the desks suddenly rattled from a slight earthquake. He was then sent to Alaska and finally Shemya AFB (now Eareckson Air Station) in the Aleutian Islands where he became familiar with typhoon-like storms that approached from the western Pacific ocean.

Upon leaving the service, he attended Jacksonville Junior College and Florida State University, where he received his degree in meteorology. In 1957, George joined the U.S. Weather Bureau, now National Weather Service. In 1960, hurricane Donna spiked his interest in weather casting, since meteorologists reporting weather on television was a rarity in those days. He began his TV career at WJXT Channel 4 in Jacksonville, FL where he has been the chief meteorologist for WJXT over 45 years.

In those early days, George designed and copyrighted the space-view weather maps to show viewers weather systems across the United States. He painted clouds on maps, since there were no daily satellite pictures available. He initiated predicting rainfall probability, and even chased storms and weather events, filming them with his 16 mm camera for his weathercasts. George was granted the American Meteorological Society Seal of Approval in 1963. He was appointed to the Board of Radio and Television Weather casting in 1969 and designed the AMS television Seal of Approval in 1973. Having reported summer temperatures in Florida's steamy humidity, George developed in 1978 the Humiture, which added a temperature equivalent moisture factor to the summer readings. A year later the National Weather Service started the summer counterpart of the Wind Chill factor called the Heat Index.

George taught meteorology as an adjunct professor at Jacksonville University from 1975 to 1994. In 1984, the AMS presented George with an award for outstanding service by a broadcast meteorologist honoring his skills and pioneering use of animation. The award was given to recognize his creative innovations to enable the public to better understand weather. In 1989 he passed the American Meteorological Society's exam to become a Certified Consulting Meteorologist.

For his 50th anniversary, George and his wife, Virginia, returned to Alaska for the first time since 1953. He was impressed with the half hour weather reporting there on the PBS channel and its inclusion of the remote Aleutian islands. He is grateful that those who experienced the "once in a lifetime" tour of duty at a place like Shemya can revisit it now through the internet. George Winterling

   
1. Being a 22 year old Air Weather Service forecaster, I was intrigued with the "mountains" of snow that allowed only one rock gravel road to be open during the winter from our wooden living quarters near the top of the island to the Base Operations building. The blizzard-like conditions provided this Floridian with dramatic stories of vehicles lost in snow drifts up to 15 feet high that would be awaiting the spring thaw for discovery.
   
2. Being from Florida I first attempted to make an igloo.
   
3. At our Weather Station I plotted and analyzed weather maps to make weather briefings In these days before weather satellites our Weather Observers plotted weather maps with data telegraphed from ships in the Pacific and land stations that stretched from Siberia and Japan to the U.S. The airlines we gave weather briefings to were Northwest Orient and Canadian Pacific. We occasionally saw a DC-3 arrive that was from Reeves Aleutian Airways. We plotted their hourly reports on a large plexiglass covered map that stretched from Seattle to Anchorage to Tokyo from their lengthy flights. Those reports revealed the position of the Jet Stream as we saw their wind reports sharply accelerate to well over 100 knots. This helped us forecast the weather over the thousands of miles they flew.
   
4. Against the backdrop of an abandoned WWII Quonset hut set in a bunker to resist wintry gales, George uses a  theodolite to track a weather balloon carried by lesser winds until it is swallowed by an overcast of gray clouds.
   
5. Weather Observers of USAF 7th Weather Group, Detachment 1
   
6. Living quarters surrounded with banks of snow.
   
7. Base Operations Building. Not a single tree was blown down!
 
   
8. Not our supplies via C-124 "Beaver", but a quick visit from Northwest Orient Airlines Stratocruiser.

There were days with the winds gusting to 60 mph that not only moved the snow mountains but made very unstable conditions for airplanes to land. One day I saw a Boeing Stratocruiser coming in for a landing. There was a brief lull in then winds when he was over the rock gravel short of the runway. The plane suddenly dropped almost 20 feet making some of the rocks scatter. When they came into the weather station they told us that the aircraft's navigator was napping on his bunk and suddenly awakened as he was thrown against the ceiling. We had no radio or television, so we
eagerly awaited the arrival of the weekly C-124 from Anchorage with mail from home. The island was cloaked in a dense fog virtually all summer. On one occasion we went outside in the pea soup waiting for the plane to land. We heard the plane advancing through the mist and heard the wheels screech as they touched the runway, but we couldn't see it. Suddenly we heard the engines rev up as the plane aborted the landing. They could see nothing upon touching the runway and we had to wait another day for our mail. During our 1953 summer we had only 3 days that were not foggy. We then saw blue skies and it was warmest days of the summer reaching 55 degrees. I received a blistering sunburn as I laid on the rich, green tundra, looking as hundreds of wild flowers, and observing the deep blue waters of the Bering Sea. Then there was the day we discovered a B-29 had landed with large holes in its tail section. We were told it was a Weather Recon plane that had flown too close to the Russian MIG fighter base in Katchatka.
 

   
9. On target for a ringer on one of our few nice sunny days.
   
10. I can't believe these were C-Rations from the Commissary. Surprisingly this building burned down. I wonder why? one day we heard loud popping sounds like a war had started. It turned out to be the commissary building ablaze with large cans of food exploding in the fire and sailing through the air.
   
11. Here's the rare summer day I got sunburned with the high
temperature of 55 degrees.
   
12. This is a picture of the rare summer day I got the blistering sunburn. It was the warmest day of the summer with a high of 55 degrees!
   
11. A nice part of the island to walk down the road to the Bering Sea shore.
   
12. Many of us couldn't resist snapping pictures of the fabulous sunsets seen from Shemya.
 
   

Updated 18 Jan 2008