Andy was returning from his third visit to North Carolina, where he has been taking part in archaeological digs in his bid to find evidence of the first British settlements and prove the part played by people from Bideford in the founding of America.
All his visits have been strangely dogged by natural disasters, but this one ended in terror. “I really feel that this time I cheated death,” he said.
After two weeks of successful digs with Professor Mark Horton and students from Bristol University, Andy stayed behind an extra day to visit Bideford’s twin town of Manteo, where the Bideford Youth Pipe Band was performing.
Over the weekend the tornadoes struck.
Trip back in time was a terrifying journey for Andy Powell
“I was told they usually have around 20 tornadoes during April, but in two days they had 62,” he said.
“Three people died within a mile of the local airport from where my journey home began. We set off in a twin turbo-prop plane with 58 passengers. The 35 minute flight to the main Newark Airport for the flight home took us two hours. We flew straight into the storm over Newark. We were told to strap ourselves in and hold on to everything that was dear. Our descent was at a 45 degree angle as we tried to get down and beat the storm. There was zero visibility, lighting was flashing and 70mph cross-winds were reported. My 16 stone frame was lifted from the seat, despite being strapped in.