Natural emissions of ozone-and-aerosol-precursor gases such as isoprene and monoterpenes are high in the southeastern US. In addition, anthropogenic emissions are significant in the southeastern US and summertime photochemistry is rapid. The NOAA-led SENEX (Southeast Nexus) aircraft campaign was one of the major components of the Southeast Atmosphere Study (SAS) and was focused on studying the interactions between biogenic and anthropogenic emissions to form secondary pollutants. During SENEX, the NOAA WP-3D aircraft conducted 20 research flights between 27 May and 10 July 2013 based out of Smyrna, TN. Here we describe the experimental approach, the science goals and early results of the NOAA SENEX campaign. The aircraft, its capabilities and standard measurements are described. The instrument payload is summarized including detection limits, accuracy, precision and time resolutions for all gas-and-aerosol phase instruments. The inter-comparisons of compounds measured with multiple instruments on the NOAA WP-3D are presented and were all within the stated uncertainties, except two of the three NO2 measurements. The SENEX flights included day- and nighttime flights in the southeastern US as well as flights over areas with intense shale gas extraction (Marcellus, Fayetteville and Haynesville shale). We present one example flight on 16 June 2013, which was a daytime flight over the Atlanta region, where several crosswind transects of plumes from the city and nearby point sources, such as power plants, paper mills and landfills, were flown. The area around Atlanta has large biogenic isoprene emissions, which provided an excellent case for studying the interactions between biogenic and anthropogenic emissions. In this example flight, chemistry in and outside the Atlanta plumes was observed for several hours after emission. The analysis of this flight showcases the strategies implemented to answer some of the main SENEX science questions.