19 November 2011

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Would You Fly Through the Eye of a Hurricane?

Sounds like a ridiculous question right? Well believe it or not there are those out there that have done just that and bought the tee shirt! Whilst not the activity of everyday folk, flying through the eye of a hurricane is a sought after experience for many storm chasers or hurricane hunters. Once thought to be the past time of mad men, storm chasing seems to be a growing hobby for many American and UK extreme weather enthusiasts.

So who came up with this crazy idea and is it really as dangerous as it sounds?

The first documented flight that was taken through the eye of a hurricane seems to be during World War II when Lt. Joe Duckworth was dared by a number of his colleagues to take up the challenge. Mr. Duckworth it seemed was somewhat of a daredevil and took up the gauntlet with gusto. In turn the 3rd Weather Reconnaissance squadron embraced the 'sport' and quickly became known as the 'hurricane hunters', the rest as they say is history! These guys still operate today and have become heroes for the many who wish they could experience the same thrills.

A lot is owed to these daredevil pilots and their crew, without which invaluable data could never be retrieved. These guys, who fly through Hurricanes for a living, do so in order to gather data about the ferocity of the storm and whether it is slowing down or gathering speed. Whilst satellites provide much of the information, the work these guys do is just as important. By being inside the storm they can create reports on the hurricanes predicted behaviour more accurately than any satellite possibly could.

As well as flying through the eye of a hurricane, these pilots also fly over and below them; the information they gather is fed back to centres like the National Hurricane Centre and helps them to pinpoint any areas which may be affected badly. By putting their own lives at risk these pilots and their crew have saved thousands of others from the destruction that is brought on by Mother Nature.

One of the latest examples of the heroics of the weather reconnaissance squadron was during Hurricane Irene back in August of this year. Reports show that these missions helped to refine satellite forecasts by up to 30%, now that's a lot by anyone's standards. You will remember that the storm started out as a category 3, a number of hours later it was downgraded to a tropical storm. This was down to information that was gathered by our good friends the 'hurricane hunters'.

So do you still think it's crazy? The 'Hurricane Hunters' and the National Hurricane Centre assure us it is not as dangerous as it sounds. Keep in mind these guys are flying in specialist equipment, built specifically for the situation. You wouldn't want to be trying it in a microlite!

About Today's Guest Writer:
Izaak is a keen blogger, who blogs on everything from geeky techy stuff, to thrill-seeking adventures, such as flying through hurricanes.  in his day job, he works for an SEO agency in London and also spends time blogging for his clients - operators of airport lounges and gritting contractors.

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