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Hurricane Hunters

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Frequently Asked Question

Why aren't NOAA's Hurricane Hunter planes torn apart in storm?

Planes are generally not destroyed by strong winds while in flight. Airliners routinely fly in jet streams with winds exceeding 150 mph over the U.S. during the winter. It's the shear, or sudden change in horizontal or vertical winds, that can destroy an aircraft, or cause its loss of control. That's why NOAA's Hurricane Hunter aircraft don't fly through tornadoes. In a like manner, NOAA pilots and crew routinely (but never casually) fly in the high-wind environment of the hurricane and don't fear it tearing the plane apart. However, they are always monitoring for "hot spots" of severe weather and shear that they can often identify on radar and avoid if it's too severe.

NOAA WP-3D Navigator at His Station
November 5, 2015
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NOAA WP-3D Flight Director
September 15, 2014
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NOAA's Gulfstream IV-SP and a NOAA WP-3D Orion hurricane hunter aircraft at the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center
October 27, 2012
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NOAA Gulfstream IV in flight
November 16, 2012
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