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'Extreme Challenge' pays Wichita and Tornado Alley a visit

Jesus Calleja, star of the Spain-based television show “Extreme Challenge” (“Desafio Extremo”) was in Wichita with camera man Jesus Emilio Valdez late last week shooting footage for an episode of the popular series.

He toured the damage in Oaklawn and spoke with survivors of the April 14 tornado, and stopped by the newsroom to discuss tornadoes with me.

He will be traversing Tornado Alley in the Tornado Intercept Vehicle 2, or TIV2, with Sean Casey, the maker of the IMAX film “Tornado Alley.” Ironically, they’ve come during one of the quietest Mays Tornado Alley has seen in years, but I told Jesus not to worry. They’ll be here for several weeks, and there’s bound to be action somewhere on the Great Plains. That means he could well pass through Wichita more than once.

Jesus is used to difficult challenges, having climbed the highest peaks on several continents. He’s also gone swimming with sharks, ridden in grueling bicycle races, traveled to the North Pole and visited erupting volcanoes.

This photo of Calleja and Valdez is from Calleja’s web site. Calleja is on the right.

For all the challenges he’s taken on, Calleja sounded nervous about getting close to a tornado. He joked more than once that the idea was “crazy.” I told him that he would be in good hands with Sean and Valley Center storm chaser and meteorologist Brandon Ivey, who works with Sean.

I’ll be interested in hearing his reaction if he happens to get close to a large tornado. If that happens, he’ll realize it’s unlike anything he’s ever been through before.

The episode is scheduled to air in about nine months.