A pilot flew into the eye of hurricane Irma and here's the insane reason why
If you've been paying attention to the news at all lately, you will have noticed one or two hurricane warnings for those living in Florida and other parts of the south coast of the US. You know, just subtle little hints that, if you're a resident in the state, you should probably get out immediately or - if that's not possible - avoid being exposed to the storm at all costs.
Bearing that in mind, you'd assume that flying anywhere near the storm, let alone into it, would be totally out of the question, right? Wrong.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) engineer Nick Underwood and his colleague, a pilot named Robert Mitchell, performed an act of absolute insanity last week, as they flew into the eye of the Category Five storm. Battling against winds that have already claimed at least 25 lives in the Caribbean and four in Florida, the two men risked death by making the flight.
But their journey was not just some needless act of daredevilry. In fact, it's quite the opposite.
The men were sent on the mission in order to drop devices known as 'dropsondes', which get caught up by the hurricane and enable the National Hurricane Center to track its movement. By doing this, they can predict the storm's path, and therefore make preparations for when it hits.
Mitchell and Underwood had been flying into hurricane Irma for three days in order to deposit the tracking devices. Speaking on the experience, Mitchell said:
"It’s been interesting. The storms have been very strong and Irma especially being so far out in the Atlantic, it’s rare that we get to fly in the same storm for so long. It’s going to be a long journey ahead for us, so we’re trying to pace ourselves."
Despite this, neither of them seem to mind the task that much, with Underwood even saying that the early starts (as opposed to the risk of being blown to smithereens) are the worst part of the job. The engineer's nonchalance was even more evident in a series of tweets he posted about what it's like to fly into one of the biggest storms of the century:
"My headset on the plane lets me pipe in some music. It automatically lowers the music volume when someone talks so you still know what's up
"On last night's flight we're approaching the storm at like 4 in the morning and I'm a little sleepy, so I put the workout playlist on.
"We're flying along and as we enter the eyewall (where bumps tend to be the worst) "X Gon' Give It To Ya" by DMX comes on and it's PERFECT.
"So you can imagine me in an airplane getting tossed around in a major hurricane and just going HARD to DMX. I loved it.
And if that wasn't crazy enough, the pair caught part of their flight on video:
You have to hand it to them: these guys have got some serious guts. Thanks to their efforts, the worst of the storm can be avoided, and plans can be put in place to better ensure the safety of millions. It's probably one of the craziest jobs out there - but hey, someone's gotta do it.