The first charter plane to the famed Aurora Australis took passengers close to the Antarctic Circle for a novel and breathtaking view of the dancing green hues also known as the Southern Lights.
According to a report from BBC News, Otago Museum director Dr. Ian Griffin led the trip, taking 134 travelers from the airport in Dunedin, New Zealand on Thursday night throughout the Southern Ocean in a spectacular chase for the jaw-dropping curtain of Southern Lights. The Boeing 767 plane returned to the airport Friday morning with rave reviews from everyone on board.
Aurora Australis’ dazzling lights or Southern Lights are the result of the electrically charged particles from the sun colliding with gases as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere. These lights are spotted dancing over the planet’s magnetic poles in the northern and southern hemispheres.
The sold-out virgin flight to the light show is a groundbreaking expedition as the first of its kind. Although people have done similar trips to the Aurora Borealis in the northern hemisphere, Griffin’s expedition is a first to take passengers closer to the Aurora Australis, the southern version of the stunning natural light show.
“The aurora doesn’t just appear in specific locations, it can move around a bit, and we were trying to chase it across the Southern Ocean, which was quite fun,” Griffin told BBC.
He added that the team flew through the aurora zone several times, even venturing two-thirds of the way to the south pole.
Indeed, their efforts didn’t go unrewarded as the passengers shared on social media the experience flying through the surreal Aurora Australis. Despite the limited seats on the plane — each passenger was ensured a window seat for an unobstructed view of the Southern Lights — the hashtag #flighttothelights became a trending topic on social media, a report from Stuff.co.nz said.
The Southern Lights journey set back passengers NZ$4,000 ($2,800) in economy and NZ$8,000 in business class. Despite the pricey ticket, the first Aurora Australis flight’s success has organizers expecting another trip in late 2017 or 2018.