From a too-modest Mark Beaubien on the record-setting recent hurricane and equally record-setting flight to collect data. “A story on our flights last week over/into Hurricane Patricia (a.k.a. Hurricane super-bad). Many firsts, for example, we caught 188 MPH winds in a 60 MPH updraft, there was basically a tornado at her center!” Lining the plane up with the storm was kind of like shooting a bullet with a bullet,” says Mark Beaubien, an engineer who was in the Houston control room during the flights. “It was extremely stressful.” That alignment was key because every 15 seconds, an automated system in the WB-57’s bomb bay dropped a state-of-the-art sensor called a dropsonde, specifically designed by Beaubien for high-altitude hurricane flights.
See photos of:
1. Me with NASA WB-57 pilots after return from flight (who fly up in space suits while I sit on ground pushing buttons)
2. Our Dropsonde exiting at 450 MPH while cruising at 62,000′ with light clouds 10 miles below us
3. Me loading dropsondes under WB-57 in 105F heat index day in Houston
… my remote “office” while we chase storms.