NOAA's UAS program director Robbie Hood retires



Robbie Hood, the UAS program director at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has retired after three decades of government service.

Hood founded the UAS program at NOAA and led the introduction of unmanned systems to the agency, which has used them for years to better understand weather and improve forecasting.

According to NOAA, the Sensing Hazards with Operational Unmanned Technology (SHOUT) program was the highpoint of her career. SHOUT used NASA’s Global Hawk to study storms, including by using high-altitude dropsondes that could measure wind speed and other attributes within storms. SHOUT proved that using unmanned systems to aid in weather forecasting is feasible.

Robbie Hood. Photo: NOAAJustyna Nicinska. Photo: NOAA
Robbie Hood, left, and Justyna Nicinska. Photos: NOAA

Hood came to NOAA in 2008 from NASA and stood up the UAS program. 

"Unmanned aircraft open up enormous possibilities for monitoring our planet on missions too long or grueling for humans to fly and in areas where satellite information is absent or lacking detail," Hood said as she launched the program. "These aircraft could help us gain new understanding of hurricanes and other severe weather, global climate change, risks to endangered species, and many other areas of concern."

Hood is a direct descendant of John Ross, the first elected chief of the Cherokee Nation who held the office for nearly 40 years. Ross is famous for leading the Cherokees on the "Trail of Tears,” the forced relocation from the southeastern United States to present-day Oklahoma in 1838–1839.

She is being relieved by Justyna Nicinska, currently the NOAA UAS program deputy director.