Viewing the total eclipse high above the clouds at 35,000 feet

ATLANTA — Millions of Georgians are marking Aug. 21 on their calendars to catch a glimpse of a rare total solar eclipse.

Big crowds are expected at Rabun Gap and atop the north Georgia mountains as the eclipse turns day into night.

But there’s yet another way to get a birds-eye view of the eclipse – and one where you don’t have to worry about clouds getting in the way. Fasten your seatbelt for a journey you won’t forget.

On this trip, you won’t start out at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport but you’ll end up there talking about it.

If you want to view the total eclipse from the air, get your special viewing glasses and plan to leave Atlanta on Sunday, Aug. 20.

Why?

You’ll be at 35,000 feet the next afternoon winging your way back to Hartsfield-Jackson as you pass right through the narrow zone of the total eclipse.

NASA’S Dr. Sten Odenwald has done the math and the homework to identify five specific flights that will be in the right place at the right time to view the total eclipse as it zeros in across north Georgia.

Delta has three flights with one from Omaha, Nebraska while American Airlines will have a flight from Philadelphia.  All will pass directly through the total eclipse zone.

But two airlines are pulling out all the stops – Alaska Airlines has a special charter heading out over the Pacific with scientists and astronomers.  It also auctioned off two seats to regular passengers to join the party.

And then there’s Southwest Airlines. You’ll have to move fast to get seats on flight 1969 from Denver leaving the Mile-High city at 9:50 a.m. on Aug. 21.

If you can get a seat, you’ll get free viewing glasses and enjoy what Southwest is calling its “Cosmic Cocktail.”

And a tip if you are planning to fly on the Southwest flight: Either buy the Business Select ticket or, for $15, buy an “Early Bird” which will allow you a good shot at getting a window seat.

But are people willing to shell out the big dollars see this solar eclipse above the clouds?

“It would be an event to see but I don’t know that I would pay the money to go fly just to see it,” said Steve Grove, an airline passenger.

“I just could not see investing that kind of money in something of that nature when you have the opportunity to see it on the ground,” added Stacey Reese of Gainesville, Georgia.

But others would jump at the chance to see this special moment high above the clouds.

“Absolutely; absolutely. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and you can’t get a better view than that–so yes,” one eager traveler said.

If you can’t get to the Georgia mountains or can’t soar above the clouds, be sure to watch the total eclipse LIVE on 11Alive and on 11Alive.com from 2 to 3 p.m. on Monday afternoon – August 21.

© 2017 WXIA-TV

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