THERE’S something incredibly eerie about being on a plane, 30,000 feet in the air, in complete darkness.
The lights on the wings aren’t blinking, the cabin lights have been turned off and even the glow of the seatbelt signs has been blocked out with electrical tape.
However, for our specific journey, all of this is entirely necessary.
We’re on our way to try and spot the northern lights, and we’re told that sitting in pitch blackness will allow our vision to adjust enough to enable us to spot the aurora more clearly, should it appear faintly in the distance.
For the first hour of the flight the twinkling lights of towns and cities are all that can be seen below, while a blanket of stars in the clear night sky above suggest we’ve got a good chance of being treated to a display.
Slowly the lights beneath us become more and more sparse until eventually they disappear as we pass over the northern tip of Scotland and end up above the North Sea, pushing on to the outer reaches of British air space.
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Over the plane’s public address system, Pete Lawrence from the BBC’s The Sky at Night is telling everyone on board the plane, kindly loaned to us by easyJet for our expedition, about the constellations we can see on both sides of the aircraft, as we continue our search for one of nature’s most spectacular sights, something I truly believe everyone ought to try and see at least once in their life.
However, that’s sometimes easier said than done, which makes the aurora flights a wonderful option for those for whom a visit to an icy climate, where the northern lights are predominantly seen, isn’t entirely accessible.
The excursions are arranged by charity Aerobility, who provide disabled people with access to experiences through flight that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to enjoy.
And, about half an hour after we’d glided away from the tip of the British Isles, all on board we’re treated to a magical experience indeed.
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The shimmering glow of the aurora revealed itself, providing us with a stunning display on the horizon.
A silver serpentine glimmer squirmed and danced elegantly before us, as everyone fortunate enough to be on the plane pressed their noses up against the windows to catch a glimpse.
It was as magnificent as I had expected, and a special sight to behold from such a unique vantage point in the sky.
After just under an hour in its company, we turned around and returned to Gatwick, from where we had taken off.
All of us, however, in far higher spirits having been treated to a truly spellbinding show from the aurora.
GO: AURORA FLIGHT
The flights cost from £349pp, with discounts available for disabled flyers, carers and children.
The funds raised from the flights support disability flying via Aerobility.
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