Ever wonder why the government always sends planes into a hurricane to gather data, but doesn't really do so for regular thunderstorms? Let the Weather Channel's crazy hologram explain that it all has to do with the direction of the wind.
Hurricane Hunting, or flying an airplane directly into an enormous, swirling vortex of a storm, might seem crazy. And the first flight was actually done for a bet. But we actually get a lot of great scientific and prediction data from doing it, and it's remarkably safe. Only five aircraft have been lost since the US Air Force and the NOAA began their missions over fifty years ago.
In case you can't watch the video above, the issue has to do with the differing structures between hurricanes and powerful thunderstorms, such as supercells that tend to spawn tornadoes. In a hurricane, the prevailing winds all tend to move in one, cyclonic direction. That can be dangerous for an airplane, however the winds are usually pretty predictable. That allows the Hurricane Hunter plane to plan out certain flight paths that minimize any risk to the crew on board.
But in a regular thunderstorm, the winds tend to travel in massive updrafts and downdrafts, huge vertical columns of air that are not only less predictable, but can tear a plane apart.
And this is also why your regular commercial flight needs to fly around storms, but a bunch of scientists can fly into a hurricane.
H/t to r/videos!