Flying into the eye of Ian: An experienced hurricane hunter takes a wild ride.

Nick Underwood has flown into the eye of a hurricane 76 times over the past six years as an aerospace engineer for the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. His roughest flight so far? Early Wednesday, to the heart of Hurricane Ian.

“I’ve never seen so much lightning,” he said in a phone interview after landing in Houston.

A veteran of 22 storms, Mr. Underwood described an exceptionally turbulent experience punching through Ian’s thick eye wall. Even inside the eye, which is usually the calmest part of the storm, he and the flight crew, technicians and scientists on the team were continually buffeted inside a Lockheed WP-3D Orion aircraft known as Kermit.

“We’re kind of used to the up-and-down, roller coaster feeling that you get, but in this case, there was just a lot of lateral movement,” he said. “It was a lot more unnerving.”


Join now!