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Delta flight to follow moon's shadow during upcoming solar eclipse

Delta will have a special flight following the path of totality from Austin to Detroit for the solar eclipse on April 8.
Delta flight to follow moon's shadow during upcoming solar eclipse
Posted at 8:55 AM, Feb 20, 2024

A rare total solar eclipse will sweep through about a 100-mile-wide swath of the U.S. on April 8, completely darkening skies for up to about four minutes along its path. 

While those on the ground will only get to see a total solar eclipse for a handful of minutes, a special Delta flight will give passengers a longer experience. 

Delta Flight 1218 will take off from Austin, Texas, at 12:15 p.m. CT, just as a partial solar eclipse gets underway. The flight is scheduled to land in Detroit at 4:20 p.m., just minutes before the partial eclipse comes to an end. 

Although Detroit is just outside the path of the total solar eclipse, the plane will generally follow the path of totality to its destination. Delta is using an A220-300 for the flight for its extra-large passenger windows. 

“This flight is the result of significant collaboration and exemplifies the close teamwork Delta is known for — from selecting an aircraft with larger windows to determining the exact departure time from Austin and the experiences at the gate and in the air,” said Eric Beck, managing director of domestic network planning. “Thanks to teams across the company, the idea of viewing a total eclipse from the air will become a reality for our customers.”

The plane won't be able to remain in the path of totality for too long. NASA says that the moon's shadow moves between 1,100 mph and 5,000 mph, depending on the latitude. The A220-300 can move at a top speed of 521 mph.

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Another added benefit for the passengers is that flying at 40,000 feet reduces the chances that clouds block the eclipse. 

The U.S. will not experience another total solar eclipse until 2044. That total solar eclipse will only fully block the sun in parts of North Dakota and Montana. 

The April 8 solar eclipse will go over numerous major cities, including Austin, Dallas, Indianapolis, Cleveland and Buffalo. The path of totality will also go over the suburbs of St. Louis, Cincinnati and Columbus. 

As of Tuesday morning, the cost of the one-way flight was $1,129.

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