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San Antonio man hunts down hurricanes

A crew member aboard a hurricane hunting-airplane hails from the Alamo City.

Hurricane season is just a few weeks away. One part of hurricane season that you often hear about are the flights of the hurricane hunters -- planes that fly into the eye of the storm in the name of science.

One of the crew members on those harrowing flights hails from San Antonio.

Commander Peter Siegel may have one of the most interesting, yet scary jobs on the planet.

He is the navigator on a NOAA WP 3D Orion aircraft, better known as a Hurricane Hunter.

It's a massive flying laboratory is essential when it comes to researching hurricanes.

Siegel, as navigator, has a big part in that.

"The most memorable mission I have is actually flying into Hurricane Katrina in 2005," said Siegel.

Siegel, a Madison High School graduate, likened flying into a hurricane to riding a rollercoaster.

"Take your favorite ride there at Six Flags (Fiesta) Texas and compress that into 30 seconds or so," he said. "In the eyewall, it gets pretty intense."

There can also be plenty of downtime.

Still, according to Siegel, nothing compares to flying into an eyewall.

"As soon as you punch through the clouds there, (with) the sun right above you (and the) cloud deck below you, you see the eyewall around you -- it's really an amazing sight not a lot of people get to see," he said.

It's a rare sight, but an observation that likely saves lives.


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