Eclipse Flight Goes Off Course at Controllers' Instruction

FAA, Delta had suggested heavy traffic might disrupt airline plans
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 13, 2024 5:00 PM CDT
Eclipse Flight Goes Off Course at Controllers' Instruction
The beginning phase of a total solar eclipse, as visible from Arlington, Texas, on Monday   (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Passengers who booked a special flight to have an airborne view of totality during the eclipse on Monday were thwarted by air traffic controllers, Delta Air Lines said. The plane veered slightly off the path of totality when controllers would not allow it to make the turns planned so passengers on both sides of the plane could have a premium view of the moon obstructing the sun, the Washington Post reports. The FAA issued no comment, but the agency and Delta had warned that such diversions were possible because of heavy eclipse traffic.

"I kind of immediately suspected the positioning was off," said Dimitrije Ratkov, one of the passengers on the flight from Dallas to Detroit. "I knew something had gone wrong, but wasn't sure what." Instead of banking, the pilots flew the plane in a circle at 33,000 feet to allow everyone a look. That wasn't what the passengers, some of whom paid more than $1,000 for their tickets, were expecting, and they reported having only brief looks at the sun. Ratkov alerted reporters after comparing the flight's path to the eclipse's, using NASA's map and a flight-tracking site. He posted a video showing his findings on YouTube. (More solar eclipse stories.)

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