A crew of 13 men known as the "Hurricane Hunters" recently completed a mission involving three flights into and out of the eye of Hurricane Patricia, all of which were caught on video.
The "Hurricane Hunters" are part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Aircraft Operation Center, which provides "airborne platforms that are essential to the gathering of environmental and geographic data for scientific research."
One of three pilots of the mission, NOAA Lt. Cdr Patrick Didier, told ABC News today that out of all the 3,800 hours of flight time he's clocked so far, his last flight into Hurricane Patricia on Friday "was the most intense turbulence I'd ever encountered."
Hurricane Patricia became the strongest storm ever recorded in the western hemisphere early Friday when it reached wind gusts of up to 200 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
It was around this point that Didier and the other "Hurricane Hunters" penetrated through into the eye of the storm, he said.
"Some of the most experienced among our group said Patricia definitely approached their top five of most turbulent flights they'd ever done," Didier said. "We experienced a few big jolts before punching out of the wall of the eye into the other side. Some of the keyboards flipped and papers got loose in the cabin."
He added, "Basically, we're pretty used to going into these storms, but you know it's bad when all of this just catches us by surprise."
The group had done two other flights on Wednesday and Thursday, and Didier said that it was "incredible" watching Patricia "go from an area of interest to a tropical storm to one of the strongest hurricanes ever."
Despite the danger, Didier said that he had a lot of confidence in the flight crew and credits "teamwork" and their collective experience with the success of the mission. During the flight on Friday, the NOAA flight engineer Joseph Klippel marked his 300th flight penetration into a hurricane, Didier said.
"When we got back to our home base in Tampa, Florida, I went home and did what what most important: I hugged my wife and kissed my nine-moth-old baby daughter," he said.
Fun fact: The plane that the crew used is one of two planes that Jim Henson had nose art commissioned for, according to Didier.
"It's name is Miss Piggy, and can you guess the name of the other?" he said. "Kermit."