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TSE 1999 Concorde

 Solar Eclipses Flight Planning & Navigation

If you would like to organize a total solar eclipse flight, then please contact me so I can help you with the computations and flight path planning. My Solar Eclipse Maestro software can automatically compute a totality run through the umbral shadow cone as well as help plan and execute that flight. However, the access to this very particular feature is strictly restricted for obvious reasons. All commercial uses are subject to a fee for every planned flight.

All eclipses aren’t equal when being viewed from high altitudes and fortuitous geometrical circumstances are to be taken into consideration. All the eclipses including the one of all the records, with the Concorde 001 in June 1973 where they had about 74 minutes of totality, can be simulated. Over inhospitable or remote regions or in case of inclement ground weather, the path of totality can be so elusive that an airborne observation of such an eclipse is by far the preferable, if not the only, viable alternative. Such was the case on 3 October 1986, and again on 30 June 1992. On 23 November 2003 there were acceptable alternatives for those ready for adventure. Intercepting the moving moon’s shadow using a high speed aircraft is fairly straighforward, although certainly non-trivial. To be successful while at the same time optimizing the duration, observability through the aircraft windows and cost requires careful planning and rigor.

The next eclipses where an airborne observation is advisable are the ones on 2013 November 3 and especially 2015 March 20. There are some possibilities for the totals on 2016 March 9 and 2017 August 21st, but the next real one is for the total on 2021 December 4.

Solar Eclipse Maestro Main Screen Screenshot

Generally the flight parameters are taken in the middle of the chosen aircraft’s flight domain in order to keep a navigation margin, which means for example a flight altitude of 38,000 ft above mean sea level is assumed, with an aircraft true speed of 470 nm/h (870 km/h) with no wind. The no-wind assumption is for planning purposes. Corrections and compensation for actual winds-aloft may be computed by Solar Eclipse Maestro. A flight is planned so as to have the Sun "straight out" the sun-side cabin windows at mid-eclipse, to provide maximum line-of-site visibility. Alternatively, a path could have been chosen such that the the aircraft is instantaneously flying in the direction of the umbral shadow’s velocity vector at mid-eclipse. This would fully optimize the duration of totality, but then the viewing angle to the Sun may be non-optimal. Given the geometry and circumstances of eclipses, and the chosen intercepts, compromises may have to be done trading one for the other.

This is page "E-Flight TSE 2010" |  Page "E-Flight HSE 2013" |  Page "E-Flight TSE 2015"

Simulation for the total solar eclipse on 2010 July 11 to the west of Patagonia.

Simulation of Eclipse-City’s observation flight over the Southern Pacific Ocean
[requires an H.264/MPEG-4 decoder: Windows users can install the Windows Essentials Codec Pack]

This is page "E-Flight TSE 2010" |  Page "E-Flight HSE 2013" |  Page "E-Flight TSE 2015"

Last page update on April 10, 2010.
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