'I wanted more adventure than a normal 9-5 job'

Rosie Hill shares her experience of being a Met Office Operational Meteorologist at an RAF helicopter base.

What is your background, and why did you join the Met Office?
My journey into weather forecasting began when I was young. I had a keen interest in sailing where analysing weather models and studying the clouds was all part of the sport! So, it felt natural for me to follow this passion academically by starting an undergraduate degree in physical geography in 2017. As I pursued various career avenues while at university, I undertook two weeks of work shadowing at NATS, the provider of air traffic control services. During this time, I had my first experience of the air industry and was particularly interested in the impact weather had on aviation. 

In 2021 I completed a master’s degree in applied meteorology at the University of Reading, a course with close ties to the Met Office. Within a few weeks of handing in my dissertation, I started the Operational Meteorologist Forecasting Course (OMFC) with the Met Office, as a direct entrant into the Mobile Met Unit (MMU). This Unit is sponsored by the RAF and provides critical meteorological services in support of defence operations and exercises in the UK and around the world. 

Being part of the Mobile Met Unit gives me a sense of purpose and achievement in everything I do.
Rosie Hill, Operational Meteorologist

What is your day-to-day role?
I work full-time at RAF Odiham, alongside the operational Chinook helicopter squadrons . My responsibilities include data analysis, briefings, designing cross sections, issuing weather warnings and undertaking weather observations. From the Met Office base, I liaise with anyone onsite, including aircrew and operations. I also send detailed information to air traffic control about the current weather conditions. This includes wind speed, direction, cloud base, visibility and pressure information, which is all critical to flight safety. My favourite days are those when I’m assisting others by answering their questions, sending information to aid their exercise planning, or helping to prepare pilots for their meteorology exam!  

What was your motivation for joining the Mobile Met Unit?
I wanted more adventure then a normal 9-to-5 office job, and I’ve always been keen to push myself out of my comfort zone, learning from exposure to new people and places.  

I had a particular interest in the armed forces from a young age, with several friends and family members serving in the military. The unique experiences offered through the military and opportunities to step up into leadership roles were a real draw to me.  

Joining the MMU has enabled me to develop military skills while progressing my career in meteorology. During my training, I took charge of everything from a rifle on a live firing range to leading a whole operations team. I also had the opportunity to simulate casualty extraction.  

How do you feel about what you do and the difference you're making?
I feel immensely proud. This really hit me in September 2023 when I was stood on the parade square at RAF Cranwell wearing my newly issued officers’ uniform in front of my family to receive an award from Prince Edward, Duke of Edinburgh. He gave me the MacRobert Sword of merit for being the best performing cadet in the Reservist Officer Initial Training. It was probably the greatest moment of my life so far. Being part of the MMU for the RAF gives me a sense of purpose and achievement in everything I do, as I can see the benefits of what we do both home and overseas. 

What other highlights have you had?
Being deployed to Oman early in 2023 was a particular highlight for me. I enjoyed being fully integrated with the squadron and seeing first-hand the value our weather forecasts and advice have on operations and teams. This highlighted to me when I was on board a Voyager aircraft and the pilot called me onto the flight deck to provide vital weather information. Then I was invited to sit in the seat next to the pilot for the landing and watch us fly over sand dunes onto the runway.  

I’ve already had the privilege of meeting and working with incredible people with a variety of backgrounds and experiences. Each person has taught me something new. I cannot wait for the challenges and adventures just over the horizon!  

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