To capture the extraordinary, first-of-a-kind footage in Tornado Alley, director Sean Casey not only had to learn how to enter a tornado, he had to design a vehicle that could take him there. It was a tricky proposition, considering tornadoes have the power to pick up locomotives and hurl cars through the air-carrying them over distances of up to a mile. In 2002, Casey sketched out a design (which, he says, looked “remarkably similar to the spaceships I drew when I was twelve”), taught himself how to weld, and, that summer, work on the original tornado intercept vehicle began. The TIV, as it is known, was built for one express purpose: to house and shuttle Casey’s camera (he and his crew call it “an armored tripod on wheels”). He created a military-style filming turret, inside of which he maneuvers much like a tank gunner, only he’s shooting film instead of ammunition and his range is 360 degrees. Featured prominently in the film Tornado Alley, TIV 2 weighs 14,000 pounds and has a top speed of over 100 mphâ€”not bad, but still a little sluggish if you’re being chased by an EF5 tornado.
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