NOAA 2000-811
Contact: Jeanne Kouhestani

Capt. Bob Maxson, NOAA Corps, Becomes New Director
of NOAA's Aircraft Operations Center in Tampa

Capt. Robert (Bob) W. Maxson of the NOAA Commissioned Corps today takes over as director of NOAA's Aircraft Operations Center – the division responsible for maintaining and operating NOAA's fleet of research aircraft and the NOAA "hurricane hunters." He replaces Capt. Donald D. Winter, who is retiring after a career in the Army and NOAA Corps that spans 32 years of service.

"I have every confidence that Capt. Maxson, as the newest director of one of three centers under the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, will continue to ensure that our support to NOAA and its environmental science programs remains undiminished and of the highest quality," said Rear Admiral Evelyn Fields, director of the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations and NOAA Corps. "Our organization has been moving forward with a strategic plan that uses innovative corporate thinking to do our work cost efficiently while expanding our responsibilities. The Aircraft Operations Center is an essential element in this plan."

Maxson, who joined the NOAA Corps in 1978, has served in NOAA's aviation program since 1983. Most recently, he was a lead pilot in NOAA's Gulfstream IV high altitude research program, under which the G-IV hurricane surveillance jet is deployed to determine the track and intensities of tropical cyclones and winter storms. Concurrently with these program duties, he served as chief of the maintenance division and then chief of the operations division at the Aircraft Operations Center. Maxson is also qualified as an aircraft and mission commander for NOAA's light aircraft programs, which include coastal mapping, snow surveys, and airport surveys. In 1992 he was selected as deputy director of the National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center, located in Chanhassen, Minn., which employs satellite and airborne-derived data sets to determine areal snow and snow water equivalent of snow pack throughout the northern United States and Canada. This information is critical to hydrological forecasters and water resource managers.

Before becoming a NOAA pilot, Maxson served aboard the NOAA ships Ferrel, Rude and Heck, where one of his responsibilities was underwater diving. In 1981 he became the Atlantic Marine Center Unit diving supervisor, where he assumed overall responsibility for East Coast diving operations.

Maxson graduated from the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne in 1978, with a bachelor's degree in physical oceanography. He received his master's degree in meteorology and physical oceanography in 1992 from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.

Maxson and his wife, Mary Ellen, reside in Valrico, Fla. They have two daughters, Leigh and Katelyn. A native of Salina, Kan., Maxson is the son of Major General and Mrs. William B. Maxson, USAF, who now reside in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

The Aircraft Operations Center, located at MacDill Air Force Base, is part of NOAA's Office of Marine and Aviation Operations. The aircraft are operated, modified, and maintained by civilians and NOAA Corps officers. FAA-certified mechanics and technicians maintain and repair the aircraft, both in the field and at AOC. AOC's scientists, meteorologists, and engineers develop, build, and operate prototype and operational scientific instrumentation on the aircraft. NOAA Corps commissioned officers, who have degrees in science, engineering or mathematics, fly the aircraft and collect scientific data.

NOAA aircraft conduct a broad range of missions that include hurricane and atmospheric research, airport obstruction surveys, coastal mapping, snow surveys, and marine mammal and fish surveys. The fleet consists of 14 heavy and light fixed-wing and rotary aircraft.