Oklahoma Pilot Rides Landspout Tornado Rising 200 Feet a Minute

A glider pilot got the ride of his life after hitching a lift on a landspout tornado, which propelled him into the sky at a rate of 200 feet a minute.

David T Evans, from Oklahoma, was flying from Minco to Tuttle in his Sun Dancer motor glider.

Evans took his plane to the skies on Sunday, and captured an incredible sight on camera as he flew around a small tornado that formed in front of his eyes.

Evans' wife, J. Evans, shared images and videos of the weather phenomenon to Twitter on Sunday, where they've proved a hit with weather enthusiasts and amateurs alike.

She wrote: "My husband, David, found this while out flying today between Minco and Tuttle!! He's flying a SunDancer motor glider."

Footage shows Evans' plane flying around the vortex, as he used the warm upward-moving air to propel his plane to soaring heights.

Evans told The Washington Post he often rides these thermals, and initially spotted some hawks doing the same thing—which he says is a good indicator of where they're occurring.

"They're always a tell-tale sign of where a thermal might be. I started getting an indication I was getting lift, so I circled in there with them," he said.

"[The thermal] was raising me up at about 100 or 200 feet per minute. Then all of a sudden that vapor funnel started forming. It was going down and down and down, but there was no turbulence. I just kept flying around that thing."

Despite circling the potentially deadly weather phenomenon—which can reach wind speeds of 100 miles per hour according to WeatherNation—J. Evans confirmed her husband was perfectly safe.

"He was out looking for lift for gliding, and found it. He wasn't in danger," she tweeted.

But, WeatherNation said landspouts should still be "taken seriously," adding: "They are usually weaker and shorter lived than "regular" tornadoes, but they still pose a threat to life and property. That said, landspouts usually only last a few minutes and typically dissipate quickly."

While landspouts are classified as a type of tornado, it differs in several ways, the easiest differentiation being landspouts form from the ground up, while tornadoes form from the clouds down to the earth.

The National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) went into further detail, saying: "A landspout is a tornado with a narrow, rope-like condensation funnel that forms while the thunderstorm cloud is still growing and there is no rotating updraft—the spinning motion originates near the ground."

Landspouts, similar to waterspouts but on land, are often identified by their funnel, with the NSSL's description matching the one Evans gave to the Post, who compared it to a "rat's-tail-looking thing."

He confirmed in his 30 years of flying, he's never seen anything like it.

Newsweek reached out to Evans for comment.

A strong tornado over Colorado.
Stock image of a strong tornado over the plains of eastern Colorado. A pilot flew around a landspout tornado which formed in Oklahoma, and used the thermal to propel his plane. Meindert van der Haven/Getty Images