Downed power lines catch fire as Hurricane Ian hits 0:50
An aerospace engineer who flew into Hurricane Ian early Wednesday said the flight was the worst of his career.
"This flight into Hurricane #Ian in Kermit (#NOAA42) was the worst I've ever been on. I've never seen so much lightning in one eye," Hurricane Hunter Nick Underwood said on Twitter Wednesday.
Nick Underwood, an aerospace engineer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, shared photos on Twitter from the eye of Hurricane Ian on Wednesday, September 28, 2022. Credit: Nick Underwood/NOAA/Twitter
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Underwood, who works for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), posted a very turbulent two-minute, 20-second video aboard a NOAA flight.
It shows people on the flight being shoved roughly into their seats, some laughing, and objects, including the plane's bunks, being hit as lightning flashes through the windows.
"We're fine, we're fine," says a voice.
"The 'we're fine' was for me," Underwood posted, also noting that the video had been "edited for language."
When I say this was the roughest flight of my career so far, I mean it.
I have never seen the bunks come out like that.
There was coffee everywhere.
I have never felt such lateral motion.
Aboard Kermit (#NOAA42) this morning into Hurricane #Ian.
Please stay safe out there.
— Tropical Nick Underwood (@TheAstroNick) September 28, 2022
According to flight tracking site FlightAware, the flight took off from Houston at 2:55 a.m. CDT on Wednesday and returned six hours and 47 minutes later.
The plane, Kermit, is a Lockheed WP-3D Orion, a NOAA "hurricane hunter" that helps collect data used in tropical cyclone research and forecasting.
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CNN has contacted NOAA and Underwood for more details about Wednesday's flight.
Underwood said on Twitter that he has been flying cyclones for the past six years.
"When I say this has been the hardest flight of my career so far, I mean it. I've never seen bunks come off like this. There was coffee everywhere. I've never felt so much lateral movement," Underwood posted.
Underwood shared a series of photos from the eye of the hurricane 8,000 feet above the ocean.
The plane circled the eye to deploy an experimental drone known as a UAS (unmanned aerial system).
Underwood took it upon himself to help get him on and off the plane.
"There is potential that opens the door to new and interesting data sets. We look forward to seeing how it works out," Underwood posted ahead of Wednesday's flight.
The cabin of Kermit, a Lockheed WP-3D Orion "Hurricane Hunter," was littered with objects displaced during the Wednesday morning flight.
Credit: Nick Underwood/NOAA
Underwood stressed that hurricane hunting flights have a mission.
"I want to stress that we're not doing this for fun. It's a public service. We're up to collect storm data that can keep people on the ground safe," he wrote.
"Those forecasting models? A lot of the data comes from what we do. I'm a very small part of a great team. Amazing teammates."
But it's not all serious when the crew is under pressure.
The pilot always listens to music, Underwood posted.
This time it was rapper Meek Mill of Dream Chasers Records.
Underwood had a message for Mill from the pilot:
"@MeekMill, you have asked me to broadcast, 'From one Dream Chaser to another.'"