First eclipse passenger flight a hit among passengers

First eclipse passenger flight a hit among passengers

The flight took off on Wednesday at 4:57 am and came back at 8:10 am after intercepting the middle of the total eclipse shadow at 6:26 am for four minutes.

The chartered aircraft, a brand new Boeing 737-700 from Jet Airways which hovered over the clouds in Gaya (Bihar) had 21 sun-side windows and 21 earth-side windows. The sun-side seats were priced at Rs 79,000, middle seats Rs 67,000, aisle seats Rs 59,000, while earth-side seats were priced Rs 29,000.

"I am mesmerised," Sachin Bahmba, SPACE founder, who was on board the eclipse flight said.

"It was an electric phenomena. The eclipse altitude, 15°, was just right to be visible from the passenger aircraft windows. At the height of 41000 feet, 75 per cent of the atmosphere, 99 per cent of the water vapour and aerosols were below the aircraft," he said.

At this altitude scattering of sunlight by airborne particulates is low, giving rise to exceptionally dark sky during totality, enabling eclipse viewing with high contrast, he said.

The airmass along the line of sight to the Sun is significantly reduced, resulting in exceptional sky transparency, reduced atmospheric turbidity, and better astronomical "seeing", Bahmba said.

Eclipse Chasers Athenaeum, the eclipse sphere of Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE), had dedicated the non-stop round eclipse flight for the event.

This was the first passenger flight in Indian history to give a glimpse of the eclipse from close quarters.

"India is the only likely place where such an airborne observation is possible," Bahmba said.

The youngest onboard, 9-year-old Adhik Gupta described his experience on the eclipse flight as amazing.

"It was my first experience to watch the solar eclipse and that too on a flight," he said.

The young enthusiast, who went without with parents, had purchased the ticket only yesterday and does not regret spending a huge amount.

"It was worth the money," he said.

Another person onboard the eclipse flight, Vijay Raghavan, an amateur photographer, said the whole experience was excellent and very good.

"I clicked pictures of the solar eclipse which are too good," said Vijay, who had a sun-side seat

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