On Monday, 21 August, millions across the United States turned skyward for a few moments to enjoy a total solar eclipse. Thousands of people in hundreds of flights also enjoyed the eclipse from the air.
With data from Flightradar24, the Washington Post put together a great graphic showcasing how many flights crossed through the path of the eclipse. Many of these flights were general aviation flights that flew purposely in the area of totality. You can see in the animation below the many flights that flocked to northern Oregon to get the first view of the eclipse.
Hundreds of aircraft flocked to the moon’s shadow during Monday’s eclipse.
— Post Graphics (@PostGraphics) August 24, 2017
Flying for Science
NASA also sent two of their WB-57 Canberra, N926NA and N927NA, chasing after the eclipse at 50,000 feet. The two aircraft departed Houston and flew under the totality of the eclipse from Kansas City to Nashville, lengthening the time during which scientists could gather data.
From the WB-57s, scientists were able to capture images like these.
Eeeeecccliiiiippppsssseeee!! Successful acquisition with both birds, with overlap, and AMAZING IMAGES! pic.twitter.com/CGBbjGiLEV
— Amir Caspi (@astronamir) August 21, 2017