Northern lights: 2 flights made unplanned loops in the sky

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A very welcome flight diversion. That’s a rarity for commercial airline passengers, but it’s what travelers on at least two flights got this week when their planes rolled out to give everyone a good view of the northern lights.

Also known as the northern lights, the natural phenomenon is something that travelers often make expensive journeys to high latitudes just to see.

Those on easyJet flight 1806 from Reykjavik to Manchester and Finnair flight 488 from Kuusamo to Helsinki all had a light show on their airfare. Flight tracking websites show that both planes made small loops during the flight.

“Many thanks to the captain of Finnair flight AY488 from KAO to HEL tonight for doing an unplanned 360 in the air so all passengers could enjoy the magic,” Kirsi Komi tweeted Sunday.

Finnair said such loops are usually performed to avoid bad weather. “Such loops are quite rare in our flight operations,” the airline said in a statement.

“The captain makes the decision to make an extra diversion. When diversions take place, the first priority is always flight safety,” said Finnair.

On Monday, the pilot on easyJet flight 1806 also did a loop to show off the colorful lights.

Ross Sticka was flying into Manchester with his wife, brother and sister-in-law and was able to take pictures out the window.

He told CNN that they had heard that people on a previous flight had seen the aurora, so they held magazines near the window to block the cabin lights in hopes of getting a glimpse.

He said the easyJet crew were amazing and turned off the lights so everyone could see.

His team was lucky because they were on the left side of the plane, he said, so “they got a lot of pictures before they did the 360.”

“Everyone was so excited that many had never seen them before. We (were) lucky to see them twice on our trip to Iceland. Amazing experience.”

Adam Groves tweeted “Many thanks” to the easyJet pilot “who did a 360 mid-flight to make sure all passengers could see the incredible Northern Lights.”

EasyJet was “delighted” to do so, the airline said in a statement to CNN.

The captain “was able to perform a controlled maneuver to allow passengers to witness a spectacular aerial display of one of nature’s greatest sights, the Aurora Borealis,” the easyJet statement said.

They offered photos not to be missed. “Too bad I didn’t have a proper camera,” tweeted Finnair captain Tuomo Järvinen.

Still, it wasn’t bad for a free show:

New image of northern lights published in 2021. The authors of a study proved that “the brightest auroras are produced by strong electromagnetic waves during geomagnetic storms.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the captain of the Finnair flight.

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