A couple years ago, Alaska Airlines agreed to an odd request from an astronomer — there was going to be an eclipse over the Pacific Ocean, and if Alaska would create a slight diversion in its flight path between Alaska and Hawaii it would be possible for all the passengers on board to witness this rare event. It ended up generating a lot of buzz, and you can tell from the video that he was really excited. 😉
You may have heard that this year will be the “Great American Eclipse” so named because it will stretch from Oregon to South Carolina on August 21. Total eclipses aren’t really that rare at all and happen about once every year or two. But what is unusual is for it to cross a densely populated area. They’re often over the ocean, and even if you try to see one by visiting a nearby island there is no guarantee of good weather. We haven’t had one like this in the U.S. since 1918.
Alaska Airlines is doubling down on its previous feat by chartering an entire plane of enthusiasts to follow the path of the eclipse, providing much more than the usual 2-3 minutes of totality (when the sun is completely blocked). It will also enable the passengers to stay above the clouds.
The flight will depart Portland at 7:30 a.m. PDT and fly off the coast of Oregon, allowing guests on board to be among the first of millions to witness this phenomenon. “As an airline, we are in a unique position to provide a one-of-a-kind experience for astronomy enthusiasts,” said Sangita Woerner, Alaska’s vice president of marketing “Flying high above the Pacific Ocean will not only provide one of the first views, but also one of the best.”
Although this flight is not open to the general public, you can enter to win a seat for you and a friend! Pay attention starting July 21, when Alaska will be sharing more details on its social media channels.
I’m very excited to be going to eastern Oregon for a shot at viewing the eclipse happening this year. Flights and hotels to some cities are already sold out, so we’re actually driving from Portland instead of staying near Madras. But other ideas are Charleston, Nashville, and St. Louis. Even if you can’t travel to see “totality” (when the sun is completely blocked) there should be wide swaths of the country with 80-90% eclipses. You’ll also have another shot at a similar event on April 8, 2024!