Pilots treat passengers to “fantastic” views of the northern lights over Europe


Passengers on two Nordic flights earlier this week got a special surprise display of the northern lights right outside their windows – and so did the passengers on the other side.

Pilots on each trip, a Finnair jump on Sunday from Kuusamo, Finland, to Helsinki, and a Monday night flight operated by easyJet from Reykjavik, Iceland, to Manchester, England, worked an extra loop into their flight path so no one would walk miss the amazing view.

They were rewarded with gratitude from passengers, who posted thanks and green-lit photos on social media. An aviation blog published a post with this headline: “Greatest pilot ever flips plane so all passengers can see the Northern Lights.”

Sarah Hitchen from Manchester was returning home from a family holiday in Iceland to celebrate her 50th birthday. Despite looking at apps for predictability and staying in a small rural town known for its prime location for the northern lights, she had only seen a “tiny tiny bit” of the phenomenon during a boat trip.

During the flight home, she said the pilot announced there would be sightings on the left side of the plane. The plane went into dark mode and the passengers got excited, but Hitchen, who works for an IT company, was on the right.

“On our end, there was nothing,” she said. Just as she thought, “Oh no, we’re not going to see them again,” she heard a follow-up announcement.

“He said, ‘Everybody on the right, now you can see it,'” Hitchen recalled. – I have never seen anything so spectacular. It just went on forever. The whole flight down from Iceland to the top of Scotland you could see the lights, just incredible.”

Ross Sticka, 38, of Derby, England, was on the same flight and said he was looking for lights from the start of the trip.

“Everyone was very excited, even the cabin crew who quickly finished their refreshments so they could turn off the lights in the cabin for us,” he said. Sticka, who works for an aerospace company, said he didn’t know the plane would do a 360-degree turn, but “everyone really appreciated it.”

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In a statement, easyJet said it was pleased the captain was able to “perform a controlled” maneuver to make the northern lights possible.

“Our crew will always go above and beyond for our customers, and we are delighted to have been able to share this special view of the Northern Lights with them,” the statement said.

Finnair spokeswoman Heidi Lemmetyinen said in an email that pilot Tuomo Järvinen made the extra loop over Kuusamo so passengers could see the lights well.

She said such loops are “quite rare” in the airline’s flight operations and that diversions are usually meant to avoid bad weather.

“When diversions take place, the first priority is always flight safety. We also follow the instructions from air traffic control and consider all factors that can affect performance on time and cost effectiveness, she said. “This time there was enough time for an extra loop and the plane landed at its destination on time.”

In a Twitter message, Järvinen said he received a lot of feedback from passengers about the experience, noting that many tourists travel to Finland hoping to see the lights.

“I’ve been flying for over 20 years and see the Northern Lights every year, but the ones we saw were nothing short of spectacular,” he wrote. “I have never seen such a bright green flaming aurora that was around us (except the south of course).”

Järvinen added: “Even for a Finn like me, this sight was amazing.”

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