NOAA's fleet of Hurricane Hunter aircraft is leaving Tampa, but is staying in the Bay area. A 10-year lease was awarded to the City of Lakeland to house the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Aircraft Operations Center at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport starting in the spring of 2017.
The Center serves as the main base for a fleet of nine specialized environmental data-gathering aircraft, and the nearly 100 staff members who work with them. Under the lease terms, the City of Lakeland will provide an aircraft hangar and office space, facilities for aircraft repairs and component storage, and a runway that is at least 8 thousand feet long. Since 1993, the Center had been operating out of space at MacDill Air Force Base in South Tampa.