MEMPHIS, TN – Weather- it’s all around us; everybody talks about it, especially storms and tornados.
We are all horrified by tornados, while simultaneously fascinated by them and the storm chasers who drive right into the middle of them.
Sean Casey, one of the country’s top storm chasers, was in Memphis on March 1 appearing at the Pink Palace Museum with his IMAX film “Tornado Alley” and his famous storm chasing vehicle: the "TIV" or Tornado Intercept Vehicle.
“That is the power of God,” said movie-goer Robert Bruce after viewing the movie.
“My goal,” said Casey, “was to make an IMAX film that really translated the beauty, the power, the violence that exists in Tornado Alley.”
To do that, Casey designed and built the TIV. It weighs seven tons, goes 100 miles per hour and anchors itself nearly four feet in the ground during a storm. That allows Casey to "get the images that can’t be gotten in a normal vehicle- but in a 14,000 pound tank.”
Casey’s TIV makes spectacular storm pictures possible.
“The machine they had doing it,” said Bruce, “that was awesome; a big, old tank.”
There a eight different layers in the TIV outer hull: aluminum, Kevlar, more aluminum, steel, more Kevlar, poly-carbonate, rubber, and finally more aluminum. Casey refers to it as the sandwich.
Inside, a series of gears, levers and knobs make everything work.
In the rear, a turret rotates with an IMAX camera.
“Usually you are just shooting whatever you can manage to shoot,” Casey said, “it is a real run and gun situation.”
It is also very scary and dangerous.
“The adrenaline rush, yeah, your blood is humming with adrenaline, with excitement - at times with fear.”
And all of that comes together to create a fantastic movie going experience.
“It was really neat,” said movie-goer Allison Brenner, “I have never been in a tornado, but to be able to see what it’s like was really neat.”
“That storm right there,” said Bruce, “that was the power of God.”
The Tornado Alley IMAX film will be appearing at the Pink Palace through November 2012.