Sailing into Storms

From the 1970s to the 1990s the Schweizer 2-32 sailplane operated by NCAR flew research missions measuring water droplets, ice, precipitation particle spectra, liquid water content, electric fields, and vertical air motion within thunderstorms. In 1981, the plane took part in a massive study of Great Plains thunderstorms called CCOPE, for Cooperative Convective Precipitation Experiment. The largest study of thunderstorms ever undertaken, it produced key insights into how air is entrained and mixed in clouds and how ice particle growth leads to giant hail in supercell storms.