NASA pilots set to witness total solar eclipse 2024 from above clouds

NASA pilots set to witness total solar eclipse 2024 from above clouds
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“Extremely exciting”: NASA pilot shares anticipation for total solar eclipse 2024 flyover experience. —NASA

The experience of flying through a solar eclipse evokes exhilaration and anticipation among NASA pilots who will soar above the clouds for a closer view. While millions observe the celestial event from the ground, NASA flight crews are gearing up for a unique advantage point.

During the total solar eclipse of 2024, which is scheduled for April 8, an estimated 31 million people will enjoy the enchantment of the eclipse from the ground.

However, that is not the case for the astronauts aboard the unique WB-57 aircraft missions since they are offered a career of a lifetime with invaluable knowledge. Flying just at the edge of Mexico, the crews would trail the path of the eclipse as it steps in the moon’s shadow for a long duration.

NASA pilot Tony Casey gets the tonic of excitement and says, “Oh, that’s so awesome.” While tracking the instruments to explore the corona and atmospheric phenomena that occur when the shadow swallows them up, he is happy anticipating the eclipse.

The flight plan is Ellington Field in Houston, TX departure and Mexican territory cross will give each plane some time in totality. Jointly using complex camera and telescope systems, pilots chase the goal of creating scrupulous images and simultaneously comply with the requirements of scientific accuracy.

Instrumentation is his main concern but he secretly hopes to see the wonderful sight of the eclipse with his eyes as well. Aircraft operate at a height above the atmosphere which permits an uncongested, fog-free view resulting in detailed statistical data.

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