Total Solar Eclipse Draws Thousands of Aviators
August 22, 2017
By David Tulis
Siletz Bay State Airport on the Oregon coast was the first airfield affected by the solar phenomenon, although predicted coastal fog steered scores of pilots inland. Amateur astronomer and Tucson, Arizona-based Cessna 172 pilot Michael Magras calculated that eastern Oregon provided the most advantageous viewing location. He was one of more than 400 pilots who flew to Madras Municipal Airport for the eclipse, which started at exactly 10:19 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time as the moon took a notch out of the sun’s illuminating sphere.
The moon’s giant shadow raced across the airfield from the top of nearby Mt. Jefferson, a snow-covered dormant volcano dominating the horizon, and engulfed the airfield in darkness as Magras gazed heavenward from the flight line next to his STOL-equipped Skyhawk.
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