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Hot Shots: Tornado sighting, train collision, unmanned midair fueling

Highlighting images in transportation and weather

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Every Friday, FreightWaves takes a look back at the week in social media, highlighting trucking, transportation and weather. This week features a tornado spotted from inside a descending airplane, a trucker saving an injured animal and a midair unmanned military fuel up.


Major flash flooding has led to road closures this week in the mid-South, with 15 to 20 inches of rain in some areas of Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama since Monday. It was so bad in some areas that the NWS issued flash flood emergencies.

The flooding Tuesday washed out part of U.S. Highway 65/165 under a Union Pacific train track in Pickens, Arkansas. Flash flooding continued in some spots Thursday, with more possible Friday.

How to save a life

A trucker who goes by the name of Freight Bambino spent part of his Memorial Day saving a baby deer that was attacked by a coyote. He was featured on the FreightWaves podcast What The Truck?!?

It happened in Grant County, Washington. Freight Bambino removed dust and dirt from the fawn’s mouth and nose to help its breathing. He fed the deer water and small pieces of Pop-Tarts until it was able to walk away, meeting up with another deer that was presumably its mother. Kudos, Freight Bambino!

Say it ain’t snow

The summer solstice is only 11 days away. However, Old Man Winter hasn’t quite loosened his grip on the Cascades of Washington state. Plenty of snow is still covering the ground and road near Paradise Mount Rainier, about 5,400 feet above sea level.

The picture above is from the south slope of Mount Rainier in Mount Rainier National Park. Meteorologists at the National Weather Service (NWS) in Seattle told FreightWaves that snowpack is quite common here in early to mid-June. Bare ground at 5,000 feet and above isn’t consistently found until July in most years.

Fill ’er up

History was made June 4 when a Boeing test plane became the first unmanned aircraft to ever refuel another aircraft.

During the midair pit stop, a manned Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet approached the Boeing-owned MQ-25 T1, conducted a formation evaluation, wake survey and drogue tracking before plugging into the unmanned aircraft. The T1 then successfully transferred fuel from its Aerial Refueling Store (ARS) to the F/A-18.

According to the U.S. Navy, testing with the T1 will continue over the next several months to include flight envelope expansion, engine testing and deck handling demonstrations aboard an aircraft carrier later this year.

What a view

It’s not every day that someone gets to see a tornado from thousands of feet up in the sky. But it happened Monday when an airline passenger caught a breathtaking view of a landspout, a type of tornado, while descending into Denver.

The landspout touched down in Firestone, Colorado, and stayed on the ground for 7.5 miles. It lifted just northeast of Platteville, Colorado, about 40 miles north of Denver International Airport. The NWS rated it an EF-1, with peak winds of 99 mph.

Off track

A train hit a Fort Worth, Texas, police car Monday afternoon that was stopped on the tracks. Nobody was in the car. Officers were chasing someone on foot behind a Fiesta grocery store on West Bolt Street near Hemphill Street in Fort Worth, police said.

The police car was left on the tracks and an incoming train ran collided with it. According to a report from Fort Worth station KXAS-TV, no one was injured in the accident.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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F3: Future of Freight Festival


The second annual F3: Future of Freight Festival will be held in Chattanooga, “The Scenic City,” this November. F3 combines innovation and entertainment — featuring live demos, industry experts discussing freight market trends for 2024, afternoon networking events, and Grammy Award-winning musicians performing in the evenings amidst the cool Appalachian fall weather.

Nick Austin

Nick is a meteorologist with 20 years of forecasting and broadcasting experience. He was nominated for a Midsouth Emmy for his coverage during a 2008 western Tennessee tornado outbreak. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Georgia Tech. Nick is a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in February 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” eight consecutive years.