Watch Mid-Air Footage of the Total Solar Eclipse
Eclipse chaser recorded footage at 35,000 feet.
Alaska Airlines delayed a flight on Tuesday, March 8 so passengers could watch the total solar eclipse in mid-air. Amazing footage of the event comes from seat 6F, where American Astronomical Society’s Mike Kentrianakis was seated. A very enthusiastic Kentrianakis offers commentary on the event, describing the eclipse, especially the very beautiful “diamond ring” event.
Alaska Airlines also tweeted an epic photo of the eclipse taken by members of the crew.
— Alaska Airlines (@AlaskaAir) March 9, 2016
Alaska Airlines’ solar eclipse flight was planned in advance, thanks to a savvy eclipse chaser. A year ago, astronomer Joe Rao contacted Alaska Airlines after figuring out that flight #870 departing from Anchorage, Alaska to Honolulu, Hawaii would just miss the eclipse’s totality. The airline agreed to delay the flight by 25 minutes so the flight path would intersect with the path of totality.
After Alaska Airlines made changes to the flight plan, Rao told other eclipse chasers and astronomical societies about the flight. Word spread, and several eclipse chasers, or “umbraphiles,” booked seats on the flight. According to Alaska Airlines, some of the eclipse chasers even canceled plans to watch the eclipse from Indonesia in order to take flight #870 instead.
To top it all off, Alaska Airlines reports that passenger Evan Zucker would play the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” on his iPhone during the eclipse.
When asked about the experience, Kentrianakis gushed, “Not only is Alaska Airlines getting people from Point A to Point B, but they’re willing to give them an exciting flight experience.” Surely, the passengers of #870 will remember this flight for a very long time.
Regarding the eye safety of the plane’s passengers, umbraphile Dan McGlaun brought 200 pairs of eclipse glasses on board, so every flyer—eclipse chaser or not—could view the event. Regarding his gesture, McGlaun told Alaska Airlines, “You can’t be doing something that’s this exciting and not give everybody onboard the chance to at least participate”
That’s science for you—bringing people together at 35,000 feet.
Kristen Bobst is an LA-based writer and whimsy aficionado. She’s a fan of animals, geekery, and sock puppets.
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