Tulsa Pilot Flies To Watch Solar Eclipse

This airport was chock full of people flying in from places like Texas and even California; there were big jets parked out on the tarmac, and there were even more planes parked on the grass.

Monday, April 8th 2024, 9:36 pm

By: Matt Rahn


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For millions of people across the United States, traveling to see the solar eclipse was a must. Tons of people hit the highway to seek out the path of totality, but the skies were crowded too. 

Air traffic control radio chatter is nonstop as plane after plane touches down in Russellville, Arkansas. 

"We're going to park them until we can't park them anymore," said Airport manager Patrick Karp.

He says they knew today wasn’t going to be an average Monday. 

"We've been anticipating this day for a long time, and we've done a lot of work to prepare for it, so I couldn't be more proud of the volunteers and my staff out here," saidKarp. 

This airport was chock full of people flying in from places like Texas and even California; there were big jets parked out on the tarmac, and there were even more planes parked on the grass.

"Welcome to Russellville,” says Mary Tedder as she jumps out of her plane.

Mary and her husband Wayne flew in from Tulsa on their Piper Dakota. Like everyone else there on Monday, they came to watch the total eclipse. 

For Mary and Wayne, experiencing the eclipse is made better surrounded by a community already connected by how they experience the sky.

"We all have this one common purpose, and that's to fly airplanes," said Wayne.

As totality gets closer and closer, things start to change.

"It's more than just seeing it, all your senses are involved, feeling it, the dark, it's weird, it's hard to explain, it's more than just looking at the sun," she said.

People settle into their lawn chairs, prepare their telescopes, and watch in awe as the sky puts on an amazing show. 

For 4 minutes and 12 seconds, a bustling airport sits still and quiet, except for excited murmurs along the runway. 

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