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66 Years Since The First Hurricane Reconnaissance By A Plane


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  • Location: Western Isles
  • Location: Western Isles
    The "Surprise Hurricane" Makes Landfall, Col. Joe Duckworth Makes History... --On this day in 1943, a relatively weak hurricane made landfall near Galveston, Texas, with sustained winds around 86 mph. What made this event more noteworthy was the fact that for the first time an airplane was intentionally flown into a hurricane -- though it was on a bet, not for reconnaissance purposes. British pilots were being trained in the field of "instrument" flying at Bryan Field, and having received news of a possible evacuation of the aircraft as the storm approached, many pilots began ribbing their flight instructor, Colonel Joe Duckworth, on the frailty of their trainer aircraft. Needless to say, Duckworth had heard enough of this and decided to prove his aircraft's' worth. Knowing that official approval was unlikely, Duckworth and his navigator for the event, Lieutenant Ralph O'Hair, made the flight as the hurricane was coming ashore. Ironically enough, after flying in conditions like that of "being tossed about like a stick in a dog's mouth," Duckworth guided his AT-6 "Texan" into the eye of the storm. O'Hair described the shape of the center like that of a leaning cone and after flying back through the squalls to Bryan Field, O'Hair hoped out -- his first and last flight into a hurricane -- and the weather officer, Lieutenant William Jones-Burdick made the second pass into the storm. Nothing was ever said about the sturdiness of the AT-6 again.

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