Photographers across the country pointed their cameras at the Sun during “The Great American Eclipse” on August 21st, 2017, but photographer Jon Carmichael managed to capture one of the most memorable shots from an unusual vantage point: he was sitting on a commercial airliner at 39,000 feet.
Inc. reports that the 32-year-old photographer had originally entered a video into a contest by Alaska Airlines for a chance at a seat on a plane flying directly through the ideal viewing path for the eclipse.
When he didn’t win the contest, Carmichael decided to get resourceful.
After doing some calculations and research, Carmichael determined that Southwest Airlines flight 1368 from Portland, Oregon, to St. Louis, Missouri, could offer him a great view of the eclipse. But the New York-based photographer couldn’t guarantee himself the perfect seat… so he brought $600 to the airport to pay off another passenger for their seat.
“My goal was to make it look like we were in space,” Carmichael writes. “I wanted to capture a unique perspective of the moon’s shadow moving across the Earth’s surface at nearly 2,000mph.
“My biggest fear was not getting a window seat since Southwest doesn’t have assigned seating – I figured I’d come this far, I should be ready to bribe someone for a window if that’s what it takes!”
Luckily for Carmichael, the Southwest flight crew that day decided to help him out in his mission: in addition to helping him snag seat 1A, the captain of the flight cleaned the outside of Carmichael’s window to help him shoot clear images. During the flight, the captain even performed a series of five 180-degree turns during the eclipse to provide everyone with a great view.
Southwest Airlines has released a 2-minute video with Carmichael’s story:
Carmichael ended up capturing over 1,200 photos in the span of two minutes during the total solar eclipse.
Upon reviewing his images, he found that he had captured totality above Snake River — it’s a photo that some are calling “the most amazing image ever taken from a commercial airplane,” Inc. writes. Carmichael titled it, “108.”
A year ago, millions came together and witnessed one of the most beautiful moments in history. My dream was to capture this from a unique view to remind us of our place in the universe and to stay united in our humanity. Thank you @Twitter for sharing that vision. #eclipse108 pic.twitter.com/AjSzf27xxQ
— Jon Carmichael (@photographerjon) August 21, 2018
You can purchase prints of the photo through the photographer’s website.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Carmichael writes. “I had the shape of two U.S. states of the Great American Eclipse and the clearest weather I could’ve ever hoped for! It felt like fate.
“This was one of the most united moments in United States history. […] For a brief moment in time, everyone in America became an astronomer. […] My wish is for this photograph to be a symbol of that fleeting beautiful moment and remind us that we are all part of something bigger than ourselves.”
Image credits: Photo by Jon Carmichael and used with permission