Sky9: Into The Storm

5:34 PM, Jun 14, 2013   |    comments
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LAUREL, MD (WUSA9) -- Sky9 brought us incredible video during Thursday's storms.

The people who fly for WUSA9 have the know-how and experience to stay ahead of the severe weather.  

Captain Bobby Ratliff gets set to fly on a beautiful picture perfect day. But Thursday's dark clouds are what this pilot lives for.

Captain Bobby Ratliff, Sky9 Pilot says, "It's mesmerizing, beautiful, dangerous. It's compelling, you have to watch what it's doing."

Ratliff has logged nearly 10-thousand miles and has flown choppers for television stations for nearly 20 years. He spent many of those years, chasing storms in the midwest.

The storm captured on Sky9 appears closer than what you might think. Traveling anywhere from 50-120 miles an hour, Ratliff stays ahead of the storm at least a couple of miles away.

Ratliff says, "We would never go into a thunderstorm. We use the power of the camera to zoom in.  We stay a safe distance away about two miles away."

Ratliff and his photographer were in the right place when they captured a waterspout over the Patapsco River in Baltimore.

Ratliff says, "I'm fascinated and others are fascinated. I think many are fascinated. If I can make it a vicarious experience like you're with me in the helicopter, that's the goal. To watch TV and feel like you're there."

The photographer who flew with Captain Ratliff had never experienced storm chasing like the one on Thursday.  He said it was scary but thrilling and would do it again.

Marc Lureau, the Photographer says, "You're seeing the storm pushing things out of its way and you know it's coming right at you in the helicopter. It's a little unnerving. I had a little fear but it was exciting.  I knew I could trust Bobby, because he's been doing this forever. I knew he would do everything to keep us safe so I could focus on what I was doing."

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