I watched the Eclipse from an RV-6!
It was such an amazing experience. I will never forget it.
The plan was to leave Paine Field (just north of Seattle) around 6:45AM, land at Salem (Oregon) around 8, and be on the ground for the eclipse.
However, Paine was fogged in until around 8:45.
When I first got there, before the tower opened, I contemplated just sneaking out through the fog... I have an attitude indicator, I can safely climb through 200 feet of fog, it would take just a few seconds! But we have all learned about decisionmaking and "get-there-itis"... So I decided to do the right (i.e. safe and legal) thing and wait for VMC. It was not a pleasant decision to make, but with flying, you never regret doing the right thing.
As soon as the tower started accepting requests for VFR takeoffs, I asked for one, and was number four for takeoff, behind an RV-8, a Glasair 2 or 3, and a Velocity. (I guess all the pilots of factory-built airplanes had instrument ratings...). Even flying at "rental power", I was doing the math and realizing that I would be landing at Salem just as totality hit, maybe just a few minutes early. That would be too close. So my wife and I decided to watch it from the air. And am I so glad that we did!
During totality, we could see a (relatively) bright sun-lit horizon all around us, a ring of daytime separating the dark sky above and the dark ground below. It was a surreal, sci-fi experience. And the corona was so BIG! It was incredible just looking at it with the naked eye.
None of this would have been possible without an airplane that can do 200mph
I would like to express my appreciation to all the controllers who dealt with the crazy air traffic! (Portland Tower was actually holding commercial flights on the ground until the swarm of VFR traffic just south of them cleared out).
By the way, this was my first flight with an ADS-B "in" device that could talk with ForeFlight on my phone, and it was GREAT to be able to see all (ok, most) of the other traffic out there right on my screen. If you have ForeFlight but no ADS-B "in", then do yourself a favor and get some of this amazing technology for your airplane. It will be $200 well spent.
I went up to 9500 ft during totality because it was much less crowded up there, flew east towards the mountains to get away from everyone... but still had one close-ish call. You can never be too vigilant.
My wife took our Panasonic FZ super-zoom camera, and I got a solar filter for it. She is a terrific photographer:
EDIT: As mentioned above, Rian Johnson of Van's Aircraft went up to 17,500 feet. If you compare his photo
with my photo
, I think he was directly above me.