On Monday 21 August, a once in a lifetime total eclipse tracked across the USA and out into the Atlantic ocean. We had an ambitious plan to try and fly our VS5 from Heathrow to Miami through the area of totality. We knew that if we could pull that off our customers and crew onboard would get a stunning view of ‘the most magnificent event in the whole of nature’. And make it happen we did. It took a lot of planning and a huge team effort but on the day it was down to the skill and experience of our pilots - Capatin Jason Shergold and First Officer Dirk-Jan Bosch who managed to give everyone onboard a view they would never forget.
To hit the small shadow of totality the flight needed to depart on time and get all the flight planning clearances we’d asked for. It was some months ago that we started looking at whether we’d have an aircraft anywhere near the eclipse. Jay Bayliss, one of our Navigation Officers, realised that the Miami flight was very close. Jay then set about working on a way to get the aircraft to intersect the eclipse. Jay also realised that in order for that to happen it was going to need a whole chain of events to drop into place. We soon had a small team from our Flight Operations and Engineering departments working out how we could make it happen. To give you an idea of the challenge, this animation shows the tiny black dot that we were aiming to fly through on the way to Miami.