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A pilot got more than he bargained for when he took his motorglider out for a spin – soaring at a speed of 200 feet a minute after he hitched a lift on a landspout tornado.
Oklahoma City native David Evans was flying in his SunDancer glider on Sunday when he spotted the twister, which forms similarly to waterspouts or dust devils, the Washington Post reported.
“Realistically, it was more of a landspout, but we sort of have no justification as to why it occurred,” National Weather Service meteorologist Ryan Bunker told the paper. “We didn’t have any answers.”
Evans said he hadn’t been optimistic about the day’s gliding prospects initially when he took off from Wiley Post Airport in Oklahoma City.
“I motored around Tuttle and Minco, and then I saw some hawks,” Evans told the outlet. “They’re always a telltale sign of where a thermal might be. I started getting an indication I was getting lift, so I circled in there with them.”
But the weak, invisible circulation that Evans was riding soon became drawn into a funnel cloud — sending him soaring to the heavens.
“[The thermal] was raising me up at about 100 or 200 feet per minute,” Evans said. “Then all of a sudden that vapor funnel started forming. It was going down and down and down, but there was no turbulence. I just kept flying around that thing.”
Evans’ wife shared footage of the exciting ride on Twitter, writing: “My husband, David, found this while out flying today between Minco and Tuttle!! He’s flying a SunDancer motor glider.”
Turns out that the funnel also had some ground circulation attached to it too — making it a tornado, albeit a weak one, with winds of less than 75 mph.
“It was really pretty,” Evans told the Washington Post. “It went from base of clouds … it was a rat’s-tail-looking thing.”
Bunker also was impressed by Evans’ adventure.
“I’ve seen cool drone footage, but you never see someone in their own plane flying right next to a funnel,” he said.
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