Crews from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have been circling Felicia, getting as close as 80 miles from the eye of the hurricane.
It is the first storm tracking mission this year for a NOAA plane nicknamed "Gonzo," after its large beak.
The Gulf Stream 4 departed the Honolulu International Airport just after 7 p.m. Friday to face off with Felicia.
As the G-4 circles the storm the crew releases more than two-dozen data collectors called dropsondes.
"This is the sensor right here that actually measures the pressure temperature humidity as it falls. Inside here you have GPS antennas that measure wind speed and direction," said electrical engineer Steven Paul.
Paul said the data the aircraft collects is sent back nearly immediately via satellite to the hurricane center at the University of Hawaii.
It is information forecasters said they rely heavily on to help predict the storm's track and strength.
"The track forecast is critical because whatever intensity the system is, it could be a big weather maker. And where it is going to go, that's what this jet data is for," said Richard Knabb, deputy director of the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.
Knabb said the plane doesn't fly into the storm but around it's perimeter, at an elevation of about 45,000 feet.
"The data that we input into the model has increased the forecast track by 20 percent. Since 1996 we have been flying this aircraft and this is data that prior to that we didn't get," said Knabb.