How Pilots, Passengers Are Viewing The Eclipse

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Aug. 21 will likely go down in history as one of the most interesting for pilots, the FAA and airports across a middle swath of the country that will include the path of totality for a solar eclipse. The level of activity expected at airports along the path is pretty well documented but what is not know is how many aircraft are going to launch in the near darkness to experience the phenomenon from an airborne perch. And since most of the route is in uncontrolled airspace the level and nature of traffic will depend a lot on see and avoid and position reports. Eclipse flights do not appear to be directly addressed in any of the FARs but common sense would suggest that those without at least some night VFR experience might want to watch it from the ground.

There are plenty of more organized attempts to capitalize on the eclipse. Those who haven’t picked an airport to fly to might be out of luck, especially if they’re looking for full services and maybe lunch and a latte. Many airports are already out of tie-down space. The well-heeled will be well served with many bizjet management companies organizing flights (Dom Perignon included) either to the eclipse path or along the eclipse path at altitudes as high as 45,000 feet. But the title of most elaborate eclipse experience goes to Orlando-based aviation photographer Mike Killian. He will be in the back seat of one of two Navy E/A-18 Growlers as they do a supersonic run westward over the Pacific toward Oregon. It will cap an effort Killian started organizing months ago. “We’ll intercept it over the ocean, fly a few photo maneuvers with the second aircraft, and then race it supersonic speeds for 30 seconds or so,” Killian told Wired. The Navy is calling it a training flight.

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