James "Doc" McFadden and the Hurricane Hunters

Deliberately flying an airplane into a hurricane might seem crazy. Deliberately flying a plane into a hurricane for the purpose of research, to better understand, and thus better prepare people, for the hurricane’s wrath might seem heroic.
Doing that nearly six hundred times in a career spanning more than five decades, might just make you one of the greatest unsung heroes of the modern era.
Special thanks to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Aircraft Operations Center:
NOAA OMAO AOC www.omao.noaa.gov/learn/aircraft-operations
NOAA AOC Facebook NOAAHurricaneHunters/
Fly NOAA Instagram flynoaa?hl=en
This is original content based on research by The History Guy. Images in the Public Domain are carefully selected and provide illustration. As very few images of the actual event are available in the Public Domain, images of similar objects and events are used for illustration.
You can purchase the bow tie worn in this episode at The Tie Bar:
All events are portrayed in historical context and for educational purposes. No images or content are primarily intended to shock and disgust. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Non censuram.
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The History Guy: History Deserves to Be Remembered is the place to find short snippets of forgotten history from five to fifteen minutes long. If you like history too, this is the channel for you.
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Script by JCG
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  • And I thought I knew about hurricane hunters. Thank you, The History Guy, you do tell a great story and remind us about important forgotten people.

    Frank GullaFrank Gulla3 өдрийн өмнө
  • Being from the Gulf Coast, this is a story that I can appreciate !

    Greg WeemsGreg Weems3 өдрийн өмнө
  • Thank you "Dr. McFadden for your dedication and passion. Rest in peace Sir. God Bless.

    Vince GiacconeVince Giaccone7 өдрийн өмнө
  • Doc was/is a true hero. If he was in the Military he would have received the Medal Of Honor. He should at least have been given the Presidential Freedom Award. What a story he could tell.

    Mike StoneMike Stone11 өдрийн өмнө
  • Way to go “Doc” , thanks for your service, and you too THG!

    Rob TinsleyRob Tinsley15 өдрийн өмнө
  • Doc McFadden doesn't even have a Wikipedia page. Currently "James McFadden" defaults to a Scottish soccer player and the disambiguation page only lists an Irish hockey player, tap dancer, bishop, and the founder of the Human Life Review as four other options. Unsung indeed.

    jlillerjliller15 өдрийн өмнө
  • Why don't you do a segment on Alex Pierrerpoint, the famous British executioner? Fascinating story and a great many deserving and interesting souls he helped to the other side.

    Philip RichiePhilip Richie16 өдрийн өмнө
  • Truly awesome!

    BrianP 556BrianP 55617 өдрийн өмнө
  • "It was there he fell in love with-" Aw his wife "-Airplanes" Hell yeah

    John RJohn R18 өдрийн өмнө
  • Pirates' used to chase hurricanes apparently.

    Ted2020Ted202018 өдрийн өмнө
  • This topic combined two of my interests, aviation and cyclones

    Flavius Julius NeposFlavius Julius Nepos19 өдрийн өмнө
  • Videos like this make me proud of the little I do for NOAA. As I sit in the satellite operations control center.

    Steven ZegaliaSteven Zegalia19 өдрийн өмнө
  • You did not mention the two Air Force squadrons who were Hurricane Hunters. The one is at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. I was with the other in Guam with the 54th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron. We flew WC130 Hercules, similar to the P3 Orions. Both aircraft with overpowered engines to penetrate a typhoon.

    HugeWolf1HugeWolf120 өдрийн өмнө
  • As a geology and meteorology student when I was young, as well as an aviation buff (flying in bush planes and puddle jumpers from Panama and Alaska to Norway), Doc is still a legend. Fantastic (yet unknown) story. Thank you. (Btw, one of my "bucket list" items is to fly through the wall of a hurricane.)

    Dirk DitmerDirk Ditmer21 өдрийн өмнө
  • Members of NOAA hold rank and privilege equal to that of any of the armed services and an Admiral in NOAA outranks a Captain or Colonel in other branches.

    John HarrisJohn Harris21 өдрийн өмнө
  • Wow, in the few minutes we got to learn about Doc it feels like I learned of a friends passing. What a dedicated man, a hero in some people’s minds.

    Rodney CareyRodney Carey22 өдрийн өмнө
  • This man deserves a Presidential Medal of Freedom. I only wish he could have received it whilst still alive, but a posthumous one should be awarded all the same.

    Amelia WolfAmelia Wolf23 өдрийн өмнө
  • A life well lived: a tribute well spoken. Such a great channel. Well done.

    Ann TeveAnn Teve23 өдрийн өмнө
  • If he'd been called `Doc' Kardashian, we'd know everything about him - but for all the wrong reasons...

    Ted thesailorTed thesailor23 өдрийн өмнө
  • NOAA needs to rename their headquarters building for him.

    Marshall LovedayMarshall Loveday23 өдрийн өмнө
  • Do a segment on Richard James Flaherty, the shortest man to ever serve in the US Army. He was called the Giant Killer.

    Philip RichiePhilip Richie23 өдрийн өмнө
  • I saw the P3, I clicked.

    Paddy O'FurniturePaddy O'Furniture23 өдрийн өмнө
  • Well done Sir. Rest.

    Hanover GreenHanover Green23 өдрийн өмнө
  • I'm getting some strong Helen Hunt vibes, though I know twisters and hurricanes are unique creatures.

    Wendy ChavezWendy Chavez23 өдрийн өмнө
  • I live on a hurricane zone, we get hit by a category 4 storm every now and then. Therefore, we owe Doc Macfaden a debt of gratitude for his work on forecast. May he rest in peace.

    Harvey HerreraHarvey Herrera24 өдрийн өмнө
  • Thanks for remembering this unsung hero. I wonder how many UFOs McFadden saw during his career?

    ice9ice924 өдрийн өмнө
  • Just from the photos, he looks like you could lose track of time talking for hours as he tells you stories of things almost no human has ever seen.

    Panzer ManPanzer Man24 өдрийн өмнө
  • "Doc" and his fellow "hunters" must have enjoyed the shake, rattle, and roll every time they entered a hurricane. More thrills than all the rides at an amusement park. Still it was very dangerous and the information these brave hurricane hunters provided was extremely valuable to the research of hurricanes and other storms. Great work by a great team.

    Garfield SmithGarfield Smith24 өдрийн өмнө
  • I worked with an Air Force pilot who flew those missions. Nice guy but you guess he did that by his personality.

    Dr45120sharp RothsteinDr45120sharp Rothstein24 өдрийн өмнө
  • Doc McFadden, the B.B. King of Hurricane Hunters. Retirement is an irrelevant idea. There is action, there is rest.

    Dennis MasonDennis Mason24 өдрийн өмнө
  • I also love the USAF Reserve Hurricane Hunters out of Biloxi Mississippi.

    Michelle JacobcikMichelle Jacobcik24 өдрийн өмнө
  • The Lockheed P-3 Orion, a multi-purpose, long range 4 engine turboprop aircraft, certainly deserves recognition in its role as hurricane hunter, intelligence gatherer, submarine hunter, and search and rescue aircraft. P-3's flew many sorties out of Australia, looking for signs of the missing Malaysia airlines flight MH 370. A durable, reliable, tough airplane, it still flies today, in both military (P-3 Orion) and civilian (Lockheed Electra) versions, all over the world.

    Grey JayGrey Jay24 өдрийн өмнө
  • I love that he started there as a translator because he could translate "Science" into normal English. Godspeed Doc.

    korbellkorbell24 өдрийн өмнө
  • It's the fakes and the loudmouths who get the fame and limelight. But the real heroes are the ones who do their jobs quietly to the best of their ability contributing to improving the quality of life for everyone.

    badweetabixbadweetabix24 өдрийн өмнө
  • Thank you for recognizing people who truly deserve to be remembered.

    Tony the Mad BritTony the Mad Brit24 өдрийн өмнө
  • That was a very moving acknowledgement to a quiet hero. Thank you.

    Bob YoungBob Young24 өдрийн өмнө
  • Six years in the Navy, four of that as a AT with VP-68 out of Pax River Maryland and Joint Base Andrews. The P-3 is a tank of a aircraft that can take just about anything you can throw at it. Sharing many parts with the C-130 Hercules they both are simply amazing planes.

    Joe DunbarJoe Dunbar24 өдрийн өмнө
  • What an accomplished and exemplary individual. It's too bad he was not given more national attention (although being a consummate professional, he likely would not want it) It's well deserved that a day after this was posted, the 'Thumbs Up' outweigh the 'Thumbs Down' by an astoundingly high 400+ to 1 (5737 / 14)

    Gregory ParrottGregory Parrott24 өдрийн өмнө
  • Beautiful tribute to an unsung hero.

    Brian BallBrian Ball24 өдрийн өмнө
  • RIP Doc. The world is safer because of people like you.

    gary lymangary lyman24 өдрийн өмнө
  • With the technology we have in drones & the fact that any aircraft can become a drone, there is really no reason to place crews at risk any more.

    Sphinx RisingSphinx Rising24 өдрийн өмнө
  • My mom did this during her Air Force career, flying C-130 Hercules out of Guam for a few years. She described it as her favorite assignment, something she felt was very beneficial for the safety of civilians, and very exciting and interesting. She was, still is, also passionate about weather, having gotten her degree in meteorology, hence this was a natural fit and seemed to combine all her greatest passions. As for the danger of it, she agreed with Doc in that it actually wasn't all that dangerous, not as dangerous as people would expect. She regarded it as less dangerous than when she was an instructor pilot, flying in formation with inexperienced students who could accidentally slice her wing off at any moment. She told stories though of quite intense turbulence and rain so heavy there was standing water on the windshield. She thinks a jet could never survive, as the intense rain would drown the engines. The turboprops, with the propellers slinging water away from the air intake, did totally fine.

    Quill MaurerQuill Maurer24 өдрийн өмнө
  • I truly enjoyed this and learned much. I would enjoy and appreciate your version of the history and achievements of the Navy "Hurricane Hunters," VW-4.

    Sunliner VetSunliner Vet24 өдрийн өмнө
  • Wow, what a great story of an unsung American public servant.

    Terry EzzellTerry Ezzell24 өдрийн өмнө
  • A great story about a great man! When I was a kid in the 60s, I saw a TV program about Navy and Air Force Hurricane Hunters, and was amazed that it was actually possible to fly in such violent storms; then, back in 1995, I had the opportunity to fly into a hurricane with the USAF Hurricane Hunters, based at Keesler AFB in Biloxi, and it was quite the memorable experience. To think that this gentleman did it hundreds of times is almost mind-boggling. Thanks for once again, History Guy, for pulling the unassuming, unsung pioneer and their little-known stories into the spotlight for all of us to appreciate.

    Harry BorsalinoHarry Borsalino24 өдрийн өмнө
  • In the late stages of World War Two, Admiral Halsey twice nearly lost the Pacific Fleet to Hurricanes. Blaming the primitive state of weather forecasting he became a big proponent of air weather reconnaissance. My father, who'd been a bomber pilot during the war, afterwards, to stay in, became an air weather officer. In the late 1940s his first assignment was to the South Pacific where the types of bombers he had flown were converted for "weather recon". The bomb bays were now filled with extra fuel tanks for longer range, and gun and bombing positions we're now manned by specialists who monitored banks of atmospheric gauges fed by external air scoops. My father did his duty at the weather station and then, to keep up his flying status, on his days off would go fly with them. From 1953-55, when I was a young boy, my father did same in the Atlantic (where we twice were struck by hurricanes). There, he would go flying on his days off with the famed 53rd Weather Squadron Hurricane Hunters. I remember when one of their planes went missing and he joined all available pilots to fly search for many days before they had to call it off. This was back before NOAA when it was all handled by the Air Force. But military or government, those who literally fly into the storm are mighty brave. Thanks again THG for some good stuff!

    Joe StephanJoe Stephan24 өдрийн өмнө
  • Why doesn't this man have the Medal of Freedom...limburger hasn't corrupted it that badly. mnthe.info/bill/video/rMuwr2W9lo2GZms See "Issac's Storm" a very good book about the storm and its aftermath from the meteorologist on site. Dan Rather made his chops as a reporter by broadcasting the weather service radar live and scared a lot of Houstonians to bug out.I well remember the forecasts from the mid two late 60'2...if the landfall was wishing 200 miles of prediction that was considered pretty good: now its down to about 20 miles.

    Phil GiglioPhil Giglio25 өдрийн өмнө
  • You didn’t mention the even deadlier 1928 Okeechobee hurricane that they still are not sure of the death toll as so many were black and many bodies were just bulldozed into a hole. Galveston on the other hand took the time to more properly account for the dead.

    Karen FayKaren Fay25 өдрийн өмнө
  • Great tribute to this fascinating American Hero, thank you!

    Donald StanfieldDonald Stanfield25 өдрийн өмнө
  • Thank you _so_ much for this superb tribute to Doc. I had the honor of working with him daily from 2014 until his passing in my role as CARCAH (Chief, Aerial Reconnaissance Coordination, All Hurricanes) at the National Hurricane Center. Doc's passion, knowledge, and experience in the field of weather recon will never be replaced. His story is without a doubt history that deserves to be remembered.

    Warren MaddenWarren Madden25 өдрийн өмнө
  • The was an early warning to the 1900 Galveston hurricane, but it was ignored. Cuban meteorologists told the occupying US Army officials that the storm was bad, and heading for the Texas coast. Their warnings were discounted by the Army and not passed on.

    Michael WernerMichael Werner25 өдрийн өмнө
  • I wonder if his research group ever did any work on derechos, land-based hurricanes like the one that hit Iowa last August?

    James GibbsJames Gibbs25 өдрийн өмнө
  • Tnx for vids you really know your stuff

    Neo AndersonNeo Anderson25 өдрийн өмнө
  • Those who give the most are the least appreciated. This dude was the John Wayne of meteorology. I bet that he had many an interesting story to tell about his life.

    Chief PontiacChief Pontiac25 өдрийн өмнө
  • The guy looks like you. He kind of looks like he could be related to the history guy.

    Bobby AdamsBobby Adams25 өдрийн өмнө
  • A legend with remembering, a great presentation Mr History guy

    Joshua ChenJoshua Chen25 өдрийн өмнө
  • The sort of person that actually should be on a plinth in a town square.

    David MatthewsDavid Matthews25 өдрийн өмнө
  • @10:05 That could very easily be a younger THG making a cameo appearance

    Phil MenziesPhil Menzies25 өдрийн өмнө
  • I was part of VW 1 squadron station at NAS Agana Guam yep super connies

    Roger MorrisRoger Morris25 өдрийн өмнө
  • No one cares about meteorologists and what they do. Thanks for remembering this man.

    Tom PaivaTom Paiva25 өдрийн өмнө
  • As a pilot all I have to say is these guys have massive kahunas.

    Flaming HedgehogFlaming Hedgehog25 өдрийн өмнө
  • It was a good video.

    Evil FluffEvil Fluff25 өдрийн өмнө
  • You have hurricanes, we have cyclones and Asia has typhoons. All the same system and all as deadly.

    Philip GardnerPhilip Gardner25 өдрийн өмнө
  • there are not enough thumbs up for such men of history....

    rick couturerick couture25 өдрийн өмнө
  • I always enjoy your sessions. This one especially, as I have lived on the Gulf coast and always marvelled at the Hurricane Hunters. I just can't understand why anyone would give you a thumb down. Thanks.

    Steven Browning SrSteven Browning Sr25 өдрийн өмнө
  • I grew up in Florida in the Lakeland area. I had heard his name but never knew all of this. Thanks.

    Tim GTim G25 өдрийн өмнө
  • Working to the, end doing what, you love; until you have peaceful death That's a life, most of us would appreciate, having for ourselves. Doc won a lottery, of sorts.

    waswestkanwaswestkan25 өдрийн өмнө
  • Marty: Doc what are your b@lls made of? Brass? Doc McFadden: Nay lad, at least iron. Haven't met a hurricane that can make them sweat yet. Dude is outstanding!

    Keith CripeKeith Cripe25 өдрийн өмнө
  • Thanks to DOC for all the lives he saved!

    ehhjeepehhjeep25 өдрийн өмнө
  • I always love aviation-related content. Thank you for bringing us the history of this great American.

    Christopher MChristopher M25 өдрийн өмнө
  • WOW! As a native Floridian, and 45 year surfer, hurricane season is something to look foreword too. Doc, Mcfadden's forecast have helped me save multiple homes and to surf the ultimate waves. Thanks, Doc

    David david aycockDavid david aycock25 өдрийн өмнө
  • Him, Him.

    airpower161airpower16125 өдрийн өмнө
  • Awesome well done

    Edgar McbeeEdgar Mcbee25 өдрийн өмнө
  • One of the greatest men to live.

    Isaac WilsonIsaac Wilson25 өдрийн өмнө
  • My dad flew 'typhoon' hunters in the USAF, out of Guam, in the 1950's. Turns out, they were actually flying into fallout clouds, from Chinese and Russian nuke tests, that finally drift out over the Pacific ocean... taking measurements and samples. The 1950's not enough was known about the possible damage the radiation could do, the USAF aircraft they flew were deemed too dangerous to return to the US and were destroyed else where. I better not say where...

    cmscms123456cmscms12345625 өдрийн өмнө
  • RIP, Doc.

    Jovan WeismillerJovan Weismiller25 өдрийн өмнө
  • Amazing story of an amazing man indeed...

    JavierCR25JavierCR2525 өдрийн өмнө
  • Thank you for telling me about this hero. The Department of Commerce, NOAA and the National Weather Service are under constant assault by short sighted and sometimes simply greedy people, but they provide valuable services that can't be provided in the same way by for-profit services.

    Thomas DonalekThomas Donalek25 өдрийн өмнө
  • I got to meet Doc McFadden about 3 years ago (though at the time I met him I had no idea who he was until viewing this video just now) when NOAA was on their Annual Pre-Season Aircraft Capabilities "show & tell" Tour which that particular year included a stop at San Antonio Int'l Airport, where I do some work with their Airport PD. He seamed to be a very nice, and certainly very knowledgeable, man as he showed me around the Gulfstream (G4-I think---the one in the background of the inside hangar pic). It would have been wonderful had I known about his background back then. This was a neat video and it amazes me to no end who's lives you (a person) can cross paths with and never know it !

    Mac's DaddyMac's Daddy25 өдрийн өмнө
    • @Jim McFadden , He certainly does! My sincere condolences to your family and yourself on the recent loss of your dad. I am sure the geophysical scientific community will be mourning his loss for years to come.

      Mac's DaddyMac's Daddy24 өдрийн өмнө
    • God works in mysterious ways!

      Jim McFaddenJim McFadden25 өдрийн өмнө
  • RIP, Doc McFadden. Thank you for your service.

    Bret MeltonBret Melton25 өдрийн өмнө
  • One doesn't think of modern times as "history", but this guy's activities prove otherwise: He literally MADE history (not to mention having written one of the books on weather patterns), even if his contribution only ended last year. Even so I doubt it was by choice to "retire" from his work. That's some dedication that deserves to be remembered.

    Hornet ScalesHornet Scales25 өдрийн өмнө
    • Amen!

      Jim McFaddenJim McFadden25 өдрийн өмнө
  • living on the edge of life is addictive I know but my body let me remember daily

    Donnie LewisDonnie Lewis25 өдрийн өмнө
  • Happy Landings, Doc.

    murdelabopmurdelabop25 өдрийн өмнө
  • Quite the difference between REAL science and professionalism, and the breathless, sensationalist 'reporting' done by the air headed 'reporters' and 'journalists', who stand out in the wind and rain, as they let the wind gusts muss up their carefully coifed hair.

    CementerCementer25 өдрийн өмнө
  • You never get to retire if you're doing what you love.

    TheHylianBatmanTheHylianBatman25 өдрийн өмнө
  • Eight uniformed services? i thought there were seven (although I knew NOAA was one of them). I had to look that up. . . THE SPACE FORCE. OMG. Tom Corbett and Matt Dodson must be laughing their (fictional) heads off. I should have been paying more attention.

    Jack ReevesJack Reeves25 өдрийн өмнө
    • But Space Force has not settled on a dress uniform yet, meaning I don’t have a hat...

      The History Guy: History Deserves to Be RememberedThe History Guy: History Deserves to Be Remembered24 өдрийн өмнө
  • A true hero

    stubby1954stubby195425 өдрийн өмнө
  • When I die I want to go peacefully in my sleep like my grandmother, not like the rest of the passengers in her car

    Sirron NalaSirron Nala25 өдрийн өмнө
  • This is why I support this channel. As I child growing up on the Texas gulf coast (near Clear Lake) I knew more than I wanted to about hurricanes (I still remember the big-C's: Carla and Cecilia). By the time I was in first grade (1956) I had learned enough from my father to know that hurricanes were not the deadly threat they had once been. This was thanks to the advent of long range weather radar, and . . . the hurricane hunters. To this day, the very phrase "Hurricane Hunter" gives me goose bumps. Unsung heros (and history that deserves to be remembered) indeed!

    Jack ReevesJack Reeves25 өдрийн өмнө
  • Growing up in Florida I love and appreciate the Hurricane Hunters and the work that they do.

    Evan FEvan F25 өдрийн өмнө
  • Sea spray at 3000 ft?

    Mein KamphMein Kamph25 өдрийн өмнө
  • Another excellent episode about someone who inspires us to serve others well done

    Oldman099Oldman09925 өдрийн өмнө
  • The MAN brought early warning to the globe. Salute to a great American... Thankyou !!

    Richard Garowski.Richard Garowski.25 өдрийн өмнө
  • Outstanding episode!

    Trooper DGBTrooper DGB25 өдрийн өмнө
  • As always, great video!

    Party4KeepsParty4Keeps25 өдрийн өмнө
  • The J52 turboprop engine which powers the P-3 Orion and C-130 Hercules planes is an absolute beast. In it's mission as a Navy sub hunter (ASW), it frequently flew hundreds of feet or less above water to launch sonobuoys, and for trawler ID.. Big amounts of sea water sucked into the engine and props was a normal thing. The turbines would basically use the water as propulsion as long as you could feed the engine dirty diesel again in reasonable time. The three water FODed engines the HG mentioned, in the unlikely event they couldn't be restarted, the pilot would've had a decent chance of limping to a landing on one engine- it has been done before.

    landland25 өдрийн өмнө
  • Very touching.

    Jim KunkleJim Kunkle25 өдрийн өмнө
  • This saddens me and makes me proud of what he did.

    zimmy1958zimmy195825 өдрийн өмнө
  • I'm sure someone, someday will be so smart as to track a hurricane with just a sharpie on a map ...... but till then I'll listen to this guy !!

    Paul D PearcePaul D Pearce25 өдрийн өмнө
  • I've been in the eye of a hurricane once, on the ground. It was quite interesting, but not something I'd like to experience again.

    Jbot123Jbot12325 өдрийн өмнө