Incredible photos as pilot makes 360 turn to show lucky passengers the Northern Lights at 37,000ft

28 February 2023, 14:17

The pilot made a 360 turn to show off the Northern Lights to passengers
The pilot made a 360 turn to show off the Northern Lights to passengers. Picture: Twitter

By Will Taylor

A pilot treated passengers to a full view of the Northern Lights as he made a 360-turn at 37,000 feet so they could take in the spectacular phenomenon.

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With the lights visible as far south as Cambridgeshire, Brits have been soaking up the display – triggered by a solar storm – for the past few days.

But the best viewing was on board an easyJet flight from Reykjavik to Manchester on Monday night.

It was captured by Adam Groves, a lucky passenger who wrote on Twitter: Big thanks to the @easyJet pilot of EZY1806 from Reykjavik to Manchester who did a 360 fly by mid flight to make sure all passengers could see the incredible Northern Lights."

Read more: Snow to hit Britain as Beast from the East could plunge temperatures to record lows, Met Office warns

A spokesperson for the airline said: "We are pleased that the captain on our flight from Reykjavik to Manchester yesterday evening was able to perform a controlled manoeuvre in order to allow passengers to witness an amazing display from the air of one of nature's greatest sights, the Aurora Borealis.

"Our crew will always go above and beyond for our customers and we're delighted to have been able to share this special view of the Northern Lights with them."

The manoeuvre was caught on plane tracker Flightradar24, which showed the circle made by the pilot west of the Faroe Islands.

The service's Twitter account correctly guessed it was done to show the lights off to passengers.

Read more: Red alert issued as Mallorca hit by 20 inches of snow as Storm Juliette reaches Balearic Islands

The phenomenon will only be visible from parts of Scotland tonight, after it was seen as far south as Cambridgeshire on Sunday.

Stargazers have been helped by a dim moon and clear skies this week but they'll now be hampered by increasing cloud cover.

Grahame Madge, a spokesperson for the Met Office, said: "Over the last few nights the Northern Lights have been a spectacular event over parts of the UK, even including spots in southern England.

"The levels of solar activity are now reducing and this combined with increasingly cloudy skies mean that the chances of a sighting are now severely limited."

Mark Gibbs, the head of space weather at the Met Office, said: "What we saw (on Sunday) was a bubble of magnetised plasma particles that had come off the sun, and they happened to be heading towards the Earth in this instance.

"It took about two days for those particles to arrive from the sun, then the particles enter the Earth's upper atmosphere and excite atoms.

"The most common sight is green, which is the result of oxygen atoms being excited. (On Sunday) night we saw some reds and purples, indicative of nitrogen atoms being excited."

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