An eight-hour flight that goes in a circle may sound like an airline debacle, but for the 134 passengers on the first-ever chartered flight to see the Southern Lights, it was all about the view.
The so-called "Flight to the Lights" left from Dunedin, New Zealand and after a few hours of chasing the Aurora Australis, returned early Friday morning.
Dr. Ian Griffin, director of the Otago Museum in New Zealand, came up with the concept after flying as a guest on a NASA observatory plane and catching a glimpse of the spectacular display, according to the Associated Press. Speaking to the BBC, he said the "awesome" flight gave everyone "a spectacular display".
"Nobody has ever really done that before. This was a world first. People have done it in the northern hemisphere," he said, stressing that it was not as straightforward to plan as a normal flight.
"The aurora doesn't just appear in specific locations, it can move around a bit, and we were trying to chase it across the Southern Ocean, which was quite fun."Flight to the Lights.
Just five days after the thrilling journey was opened for booking, it was sold out and had travelers coming from destinations like Spain to experience the trip.
Travelers were able to view the phenomenon for about five hours while traveling below the 60th parallel south. They flew through the aurora zone several times to ensure all of the passengers got a look at the views.
The rest of the passengers on the flight, who each reportedly spent anywhere from 4,000 to 8,500 New Zealand dollars for their seats, were just as excited as Griffin, the AP writes:
Passenger Nick Wong said he’d stumbled upon the idea of the flight last year through social media and decided to sign up.
“I didn’t think we would actually see such a spectacular display, even by the naked eye,” he said. “It was really great to be a part of an adventure with like-minded people who were equally or more excited at viewing this phenomena as I was.”