British AirwaysNorthern Lights: British Airways passengers were treated to incredible views of the natural wonder
Passengers on-board British Airways’ special Aerobility Aurora flight last Saturday were treated to an extraordinary front row view of the Northern Lights at 30,000 feet.
The evening was hosted by British astronaut and national treasure, Tim Peake, who was joined by 142 star-gazers travelling in hope of catching this dream-like phenomenon.
Whilst it’s best seen in the Arctic Circle, the flight took off from Gatwick Airport and headed North to catch a rare glimpse of this spectacular display.
The Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis is an ethereal, natural light display boasting flashes of green, blue and even red into the night sky.
The beautiful aurora occurs due to particles from the sun striking atoms in the Earth’s atmosphere, causing them to release light.
According to Aurora Watch UK: “The best display comes when the aurora moves directly overhead, when you can see the 'corona effect' where bands of light diverge from the sky directly above you, filling the whole sky”.
The day started at Gatwick Airport where star watchers heard from Aurora expert and BBC The Sky At Night presenter Pete Lawrence.
It was then followed by a special guest lecture from Tim Peake, the first British astronaut to visit the European Space Agency.
British AirwaysNorthern Lights: Tim Peake hosted the special flight
At sunset, passengers boarded the A320 aircraft and headed 61 degrees North to the coast of the Shetland Isles, in hope of witnessing the celestial sight.
Passengers were lucky, catching green hues of the aurora from a passenger window.
Captain Ian Mills, who operated the flight, said: “British Airways is incredibly proud to be able to support this special charter flight and we are delighted that we’ve played a part in helping raise money for a fantastic cause.”
The flight was put on in order to raise money for Aerobility, a charity that gives people with a disability the chance to fly.
British AirwaysNorthern Lights: The amazing phenomenon is usually only seen from the ground
British AirwaysNorthern Lights: Views from the flight window showed amazing skies
All proceeds from the evening will be used to support aviation based opportunities for disabled young people, disabled adults and wounded soldiers.
In attendance was Mike Miller-Smith MBE, CEO of the charity, British Airways senior first officer and Aerobility Chairman Shona Bowman and first officer and Aerobility Trustee Andy Robins.
Mike Miller-Smith MBE,said: “The Aerobility Aurora flight required a huge amount of hard work and planning, and with the help of British Airways, tonight has been a great success. Aerobility supporters and the British Airways crew have been fantastic.”
This is not the first time the Northern Lights have been seen from the UK this month. Throughout February, clear skies have meant the Aurora Borealis could be spotted.