Alaska Airlines hosted an eclipse-viewing party over 35,000 feet above the ground.
The airline’s charter Flight 9671 departed from Oregon’s Portland International Airport at 10:15 a.m. ET and headed west over the Pacific Ocean to give invited guests, which included eclipse experts, contest winners, an astronaut and members of the media, a unique view of the total eclipse. Those on board the plane were also among the first of millions to witness the phenomenon, Alaska Airlines said in a news release.
"We'll be heading about 800 miles out off the coast of Oregon to catch the #Eclipse2017 from an @AlaskaAir Boeing 737. #TotalityAwesome," tweeted Tanya Harrison, director of research at Arizona State University, before the once-in-a-lifetime flight departed.
The plane flew at 38,000 feet and climbed as high as 40,000 during prime viewing.
Astronomers worked with Alaska Airlines pilots Capt. Steve Fulton and Capt. Hal Andersen over the past few months to chart the best flight path to "totality."
U.S. & World
"The first reason relates to the high altitude of the sun," the airline explained in a statement. "In order to allow observers to see the Sun both from the window and adjacent middle seat, we need to fly from Portland International Airport to a preselected position approximately 815 nautical miles to the west-northwest over the open waters of the Pacific Ocean."
Several airlines had regularly scheduled flights that went right through the eclipse's path.