Hurricane Hunter: Hurricane Ian flight ‘worst I’ve ever been’


(CNN) – The aerospace engineer who flew into Hurricane Ian early Wednesday said the flight was the worst of his career.

“This flight from #Kermit to Hurricane #Ian (#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 on wednesday
Underwood, who works at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, posted video a very confusing two minutes and 20 seconds on a NOAA flight. It shows people on the flight being rudely thrashed in their seats, including some laughter and the plane’s beds, with lightning striking through the windows.

“We’re fine, we’re fine,” says a voice. “‘We’re OK’ was for me,” Underwood posted, adding that the video was “edited for language.”

According to flight tracking site FlightAware, the flight departed 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.

CNN has reached out to NOAA and Underwood for more details about Wednesday’s flight.

Underwood said on Twitter that she has flown through storms for the past six years.

“When I say it was the hardest flight of my career to date, I mean it. I’ve never seen beds come out like that. There was coffee everywhere. I’ve never felt such lateral movement,” Underwood posted.

A shared a series of photos from the eye of the storm 8,000 feet above the ocean. The plane circled the eye of the storm to deploy an experimental drone called a UAS (unmanned aerial system). Underwood had to help him get on and off the plane.

“It’s there because it opens the door to new and interesting data sets. We want to see how it works,” Underwood posted before Wednesday’s flight.

The system “worked great,” he later tweeted.

The cabin of Kermit, a Lockheed WP-3D Orion “Hurricane Hunter,” was littered with items displaced during Wednesday morning’s flight.

Nick Underwood/NOAA

Underwood stressed that hurricane-hunting flights have a role.

“I want to stress that we’re not doing this for fun. It’s a public service. We go up there to collect storm data to keep people safe on the ground,” he wrote.

“Those predictive models? A lot of the data comes from what we do. I’m a very small part of a big team. Incredible team members.”

But all is not stone cold 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 asked me to pass on ‘One Dream Chaser to Another.'”

Image above: Nick Underwood, an aerospace engineer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, shared photos from the eye of Hurricane Ian on Twitter on Wednesday, September 28, 2022. (Nick Underwood/NOAA/Twitter)