On July 18, 1986 an F2 tornado in the Fridley, Minnesota area became the first tornado to be extensively covered by a TV news helicopter and aired LIVE on television as it unfolded. The video was captured by Sky 11 helicopter pilot Max Messmer and photographer Tom Empey. The Sky 11 team first spotted the tornado right before the 5pm newscast started and began feeding the footage back live to the studio. As the news team prepared to go on air, they decided to drop all of the planned news stories and air this footage live. This footage has since become infamous and became a valuable tool for tornado scientists to study.
I was watching this live as it unfolded and decided to grab a VHS tape and capture it. I missed the first several minutes, so I have spliced on those missing minutes from another video sourced elsewhere. Around six minutes into the broadcast, the video switches over to my personal home recording. (Note: The volume increases somewhat when the changeover occurs.) After the tornado dissipated, I switched over to WCCO TV and captured some of their coverage which showed video of the tornado from a different angle, allowing you to see the upper portion of the funnel cloud. I briefly switched back to KARE 11 before I stopped taping.
This videotape lay unwatched for nearly 28 years until I recently re-discovered it in a box in my garage. I believe this may the first time that the entire live broadcast (save for a small interruption) had been made available on YouTube. Most footage of this tornado that circulates today came from later broadcasts, where the footage was heavily edited. This is the event as it unfolded live on TV on the afternoon of July 18, 1986. Enjoy!