The Best Seat in the Sky

Dann Parks, EAA 519869

With all the hype about flying somewhere to watch the eclipse, it occurred to me that the best seat in the house might be in the air at high altitude under the bubble canopy of my RV-6A. Regulations didn’t prohibit VFR flying during an eclipse or require night currency. I live in southwest Washington, so I took off at 9 a.m., climbed to 13,000 feet (on oxygen) about 4 miles off the Oregon coast on the totality center line, and set the autopilot. I decided to go high for the best view of the shadow and because there would be fewer planes in the O2 altitude zone.

Flying southbound, as the 10:15 totality time approached, I could clearly see a huge shadow racing in over the fog-covered ocean. When it met the plane, the sun went into totality and I could see the shadow moving inland — an absolutely astonishing sight. Two minutes later, light was approaching from the west and then the sun was back. Surprisingly, it never really got dark — more like right after sunset — and there was always a bright horizon all around. 

Afterwards, I realized that I was probably one of the first people in the country to see the eclipse. An absolutely awesome experience and a testament to our amazing little airplanes.

Totality from the sky.

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