Flying under the December 14th eclipse- a real trip!
Finally, Alex and I went on a real trip last week vs a memory trip. You are probably aware that on December 14th there was a solar eclipse above Patagonia. This eclipse could be experienced from many places in Argentina and Chile but if you wanted to see the sun 100% hidden by the moon, you needed to be in specific locations of Patagonia. For once, we were in the front row! Or almost: we had to travel to "Las Grutas" to see it exactly at 13.18 hours.
And Las Grutas is not very far away from Buenos Aires, so we decided to go by plane to Bahia Blanca (a real but not too exciting city South of Buenos Aires where we got stuck due to bad weather several years ago) and from there to fly to Las Grutas on Monday morning and turn right, in order to see the full eclipse in the sky, from exactly under it. We did not go alone but with a small group of other airplanes. The exact route as well as the flight levels of each airplane had been carefully calculated by experts in order to be 100% under the eclipse without risking mid-air collisions.
Our assigned flight level was 8500 feet but towards the end we climbed to 10500 feet to get above some scattered clouds and circled in place to stay in the clear sky area. The others were also circling in place, at different altitudes, waiting for the show...
And it was a total success! Not only was it really fun to plan the route, but we also had an amazing experience: twilight, dark and dawn over a period of 2 minutes at 1 pm in the afternoon- wow!
We had special filters to look at the sun before and after it was hidden and during the 2 minutes that it was dark, we could see the crown around the moon, followed by the famous "diamond ring" with our bare eyes. I have never been a big fan of eclipses - hours of waiting to see something really short lived - but I must say this one was worth it.
Dark in the air at 1.15 pm on a clear day
The diamond ring around 1.20 pm - the "real thing" as experienced with my own eyes, is much more impressive, really!
On our way home at 1.36 pm... as if nothing had happened...
We had lots of headwind on Monday 14th, which was welcome because it made us fly slowly into the eclipse... but there was not as much wind as yesterday, December 19th, in Buenos Aires when nature had another extraordinary event in stock for us, only two blocks from home. We were in the front row twice in a week!