Glider Pilot Gets Up Close and Personal with Landspout Tornado

If you grew up in “tornado country” in the American Midwest, then your instincts are probably to avoid twisters at all costs. At least that is usually the case. Now, via The Huffington Post, we’ve learned about how one glider pilot in Oklahoma decided to actually get a little bit closer to one. Did we say “a little bit?” Because it was actually about as close to one as you can get.

David Evans was flying his glider near the town of Tuttle, Oklahoma, on Sunday, June 13. While up in the air, he saw what he believed was a tornado forming. Rather than getting clear of it, he decided to fly in even closer. (You are far braver than we are, sir). Drone footage of formations like this are somewhat common, but it’s rare that anyone gets this close to one in person.

Evans was in the right airspace at just the right time. As it turns out, the funnel formation wasn’t actually a tornado in the strictest sense. It was actually a landspout, the ground version of a waterspout. While up there, Evans even took a video. Live Storm Chasers later shared the video on their YouTube channel. You can watch the full video above.

Close up footage of a landspout tornado from the air, in Oklahoma.

Live Storm Chasers

Unlike airplanes, gliders rely on wind resistance to stay up in the air. Essentially, Evans was attempting to use the tornado to give himself a bit of a boost. And judging from the video, it seems to have worked. Although seemingly scary, ultimately the pilot didn’t have too much to worry about here in terms of safety. According to the National Weather Service, landspout tornadoes “tend to be much weaker and shorter-lived than their supercell counterparts, with wind speeds rarely exceeding 100 mph.” It all still sounds rather terrifying to us, but we’ll trust the National Weather Service on this one.

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