Tech students help build tornado vehicle


Lawton_Twisters are fast and furious and most of us will never have a chance to see one up close except on television and the silver screen.  But soon we may be able to see one up close and personal like never before.

Around 40 welding students at the Great Plains Technology Center will get a chance to help create a new Tornado Interceptor Vehicle.  They already have TIV 1 and hope to have TIV 2 finished by the start of tornado storm season in about four months.  IMAX and the Discovery Channel crews were at the center getting a behind the scenes look at the project for their television show "Storm Chasers".

The film "Twister" featured storm chasers in a breathtaking way that brought twisters to the big screen in a way that had never before been seen.  But, most of the tornadoes in the film were computer generated and IMAX Producer Sean Casey wants to create a film that uses real scenarios - and they need a new vehicle to do it.

"Because if people are going to see our film I don't want to give them a nose bleed seat witnessing a tornado," he says.  "I want to give them a 50 yard line view and give them the joy of one of the most awesome spectacles on this planet."  Casey says he created TIV 1 in 2002 but it's a tough ride.  In order to get as close as they really want, they'll have to make it safer.

"This is the heart of the vehicle, and this is the cradle and we have this port...looking at a 16 thousand pound movable tripod," says Casey.  He says after searching the world for a vehicle that was up to the task he found Southwest Alliance USA 6 By 6 Company right here in Lawton.

That's how this opportunity fell into the hands of welders at the Great Plains Tech Center.  Allen Dellamy is the welding instructor advising students in this project.  He says it's a great opportunity for his students and he can't wait to see it completed.  "It's an on going process we will work on some of it ... then we will send it," he says.

Students won't just have a movie producer in shop, The Discovery Channel is there too, documenting the process.  And after seeing all the action of live tornadoes and computer generated twisters, you may think it would be great to do a little storm chasing yourself.  Our meteorologists would tell you that's certainly not a good idea and the Discovery Channel producer agrees.

These guys have been doing it for years," says Wheeler.  "Getting in your car, going out in your Ford Taurus - bad idea.  Stay a safe distance back.   I know it's beautiful but stay at home and let us show you on TV or Film, I think that's the best way."

TIV 2 will be in the next IMAX movie theater along with behind the scenes shots on "Storm Chasers" on Discovery.