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Steve Sliwa

Eclipse from a Motorglider

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Steve Sliwa

I am based about 50 air miles from where totality was predicted to occur on yesterday's eclipse.  I decided to view it from my Ximango motor glider.  The sky was clear, but there was some smoke in the area due to forest/brush fires.  Madras was predicted to be one of the best spots, so I flew to near the ZEMAB intersection using  Foreflight and hung out at about 10,500.  I was outside the smoke and had a good observation spot.

There was plenty of traffic in the area though and ATC was not providing flight following to VFR traffic due to a large amount of traffic.  I know that Madras had over 400 airplanes on the ground.  Here is link to the take-off line at Madras after the Eclipse passed.

In fact, as I monitored ATC I heard several airliners request holds at various fixes inbound to PDX give their passengers a view of the eclipse.

I had eclipse sun shades that NASA handed out at Oshkosh and used them while viewing the sun in partial eclipse.  Of course, they blocked everything else out so I could only use them while actually viewing the sun seconds at a time to enable to continue piloting.  Once the eclipse got into totality, though, the sun shades weren't needed.  It was eerily dark.  Fortunately, my Ximango has strobes and a Dynon attitude indicator so the impact was minimal.

I tried snapping a picture with my iPad and no filters.  It shows the sun as round light with a small black dot.  Of course, it was actually a big black dot with a corona.



Here is a video that I took trying to show eclipse in totality and my wingtips to prove my vantage point.




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Susan and I had a similar flight. The path of totality was about 30 miles from my strip. We decided to don oxygen and get above the crowd. Every little airport along the path had ramps full of airplanes and people. We climbed up to 17,999' and loitered around for the duration of the eclipse. It was like watching a 360 degree sunset. Pretty eerie. Here's one picture I got from my tail mounted camera about a minute into the eclipse from 17,999' on the centerline of totality. If you look close you can see the eclipsed sun's reflection on the rear of the canopy:


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Had a great flight to the eclipse
David Glosser
Yesterday, 6:25 PM
Jim Lee (jimlee@phoenixairusa.com)
Upon suggestion of Jim Lee am copying my note to him to the TMGA group. When I get a chance, I'll add video of the site from which I viewed the eclipse; Triple Tree Aerodrome in Greenville, SC. I decided to view from the ground for a number of reasons and am grateful to those who posted aerial shots.  Dave
Hi Jim,
Totally Splendid Totality
I flew down to Greenville, S.C. and saw the eclipse at Triple Tree Aerodrome under clear skies. There were perhaps 600 small planes that flew in to camp and share the experience. Totality lasted about 2 minutes and produced rather abrupt darkness, the appearance of Venus, some other bright stars, and weird crescent shadows all over the place. The bugs emerged, the cicadas sang, the air cooled, and all of the assembled people gasped in awe, sang out, clapped, cheered, or just stood in reverent silence as we watched the mechanics of the solar system at work in this magnificent spectacle. Directly thereafter, this 7,000 foot long manicured turf airfield saw the exodus of approximately 1 plane per minute. As for me, I flew into, and parked my plane at a towered class D airport, Donaldson Airfield in nearby Greenville,  and camped at the air-conditioned Hampton Inn.  Did I mention that S. Carolina in August is hot as heck?  I was lucky with the weather and enjoyed clear skies and tail winds all the way down. The golfer in chief was hogging up our New Jersey and Pennsylvania airspace, and I had to get a special squawk code and following from ATC to get out of the orange zone. I didn't want to fly through the DC SFRA so flew around the north of it and then south through the Shenandoah Valley at roughly 7,500' MSL to KSHD in Harrisonburg, VA where I stopped for the night. It was a beautiful flight over exceptionally lovely terrain with good air clarity. KSHD is a perfect non-towered GA facility with an endless runway and great facilities and staff. The next morning I only had 2 1/2 hours of flight into Donaldson. It's a busy area with lots of Class D and C airports as well as non-towered fields, but entry to Donaldson is a low drama experience, and the controllers are excellent. Ordinarily, on these long trips I end up with strong head winds on one of the legs, but the weather gods were with me this time, and winds were perfectly aligned for me both ends of the trip. Mr. T. had left New Jersey by the time of my return yesterday, and I decided to fly a northeasterly route to exploit wind direction and then cross the Chesapeake at Norfolk, fly up the Delmarva Peninsula, thru NJ to my home field in Princeton. Amazingly, I had a steady 12-15 kt tail wind the whole trip.  Often the indicated air speed was 85kt and the ground speed was 115kt. Admittedly the TAS at higher altitudes was in the mid to high 90's, but still a good bang for the buck at 4400 rpm. The sky was quite milky from the surface to about 6,500 MSL so I cruised well above it. I landed at a small GA airport in VA approaching Norfolk, Suffolk Executive. They had good runways, but they were only in fair condition and the numbers and other markings were barely readable until I was on top of them. None the less, there was a good restaurant, clean facilities and  ethanol free 93 octane Mogas for $3.29.  (The airport manager flies a Flight Design Rotax powered plane.) Though I've now crossed the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays several times, the idea of flying over that much open water is still a bit nervous for me. Accordingly, I got up to 11,000 feet to do so. I was flying short wing but calculated that from that altitude and with the prevailing wind I could glide about 45 miles. I got to Princeton a bit before 5PM with continued wind from the south all the way down to ground level, where it was gusty and blended with considerable convection and ground effects. Our runway is 10-28. It was squirrely and raised my heart rate, but the landing was fairly anti-climatic.  In general it was a lot of seat time for a 1 hour show, but what a show! I'm glad I had the chance to take N623AS to go see it. Incidentally, folks I spoke with who had driven down from DC area described horrible traffic the whole way..which of course made me feel much luckier. I hope you and Kathy are well, and that your flying has been fun. Perhaps we'll see one another when ski season rolls around.

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