While lightning may seem especially menacing, there's no cause for concern: aircraft are well-equipped to handle a potential lightning strike. Many older aircraft have an exterior hull made entirely of metal, which conducts the lightning away from them and prevents the electricity from entering the cabin.
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Newer aircraft have effective built-in protection from thunderstorms, too, in the form of electrostatic dischargers. You may have noticed them before: they are the small black antennae carbon rods on the tips of the wings. These rods conduct the static electricity away from the hull and discharge it into the air. Flying around storms Which isn't to say that aircraft can just fly straight through any storm they encounter.
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A lightning strike can, in fact, cause minor damage to the aircraft. What's more, thunderstorms are often accompanied by other types of severe weather such as strong winds and hail. As such, pilots prefer not to fly directly through a thunderstorm.
Many aircraft are equipped with a meteorological radar so that pilots can detect approaching storms in plenty of time and steer around them. In such cases, the pilot will consult air traffic control and plot out a different flight path. Now it is teetering on Category 5. We just saw mph on the plane radar gauge.
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I try to enjoy the calmness, and the beauty. The stacked white cloud formation surrounding the Eye, an oval of sorts, looks like an immense stadium structure from the center of a football field. The serenity makes it hard to imagine the destructive violence in the seemingly peaceful clouds we had just traversed. Why am I here? My pilot, Lt.
Sean Cross, 48, has penetrated hurricanes times, so I am in very good hands. Don't become complacent, be ready for the unexpected, guard the controls. To say I am nervous is an understatement.
As an adventure journalist, I have done a number of risky things including riding in a MiG fighter jet at Mach 2. But when I told my colleagues about this hurricane fly-in, they said I was nuts. To be clear, we are not on a joyride. During the flight, we are gathering data important to predicting the strength and direction of the storm, including wind speed, barometric pressure, temperature and humidity. Such vital information can potentially save billions of dollars in property damage, as well as countless lives.
The Hurricane Hunters have a long and storied history.
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Formed in as a bar-room dare, the intrepid group has been active at Keesler since , flying a myriad of weather reconnaissance missions. The rd wing currently consists of 1, personnel and the base houses 10 WCJ aircraft. Just before 9 a. Hurricane Dorian, then a Category 5 storm packing wind gusts of more than mph, was over the Caribbean, threatening a swath of the East Coast from Florida to North Carolina.
The Hurricane Hunters were about to fly directly into the storm. CNBC joined them on the flight. Members of the Hurricane Hunters, the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, have been flying on WC Hercules aircraft, propeller planes specially outfitted to track weather and fly long missions, almost around the clock from the base in Biloxi into Dorian, as they do for other tropical cyclones. These Air Force pilots, meteorologists, navigators and technicians, are tasked with collecting and transmitting data that will help federal forecasters advise countless other state agencies and businesses from airlines to hotels to retailers as they prepare for the projected the path of the storm, and if needed, evacuate.
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The Hurricane Hunters' hour mission, on Monday morning, their 32nd for this storm, included four passes through Dorian's mile eye. The NOAA has its own storm-chasing team.
Weather technicians will request a path for pilots, helping them gather data, but they are careful to avoid tornadoes. The task of predicting hurricanes remains remarkably difficult because of the number of variables that can affect a storm's path, such as winds and weather systems thousands of miles away. What is it like to fly through the eye of a hurricane? In a word: bumpy. The plane is flying at about 10, feet, less than a third of the cruising altitude for most commercial flights and through the strongest winds at the eye wall.
John Gharbi. But unlike a commercial flight packed with passengers and strict rules about seat belt use. That's par for the course for Hurricane Hunters who have work to do during this crucial stage of flight. These are dropped in the storm's eye wall, where wind speeds are the highest. The plane itself also constantly measures wind speeds through the stepped frequency microwave sensor, affectionately called the "smurf. The crew "crabs" into the storm, always turning left into the wind.