Passengers aboard a scheduled service from Reykjavik to Manchester were treated to views of the Northern Aurora, so spectacular the pilot pulled round for a better look.
A solar storm over the poles has led to exceptionally bright displays of the aurora this past week. Although much of northern Europe has been blanketed by low cloud, spoiling the show, some sightings have been reported as far south as France. On Sunday the aurora Boralis were seen in the Hauts-de-France for the first time since 2015.
Passengers aboard airlines had no such problems in seeing the lights.
On Tuesday night the pilot of Easyjet flight EZY1806 looped back towards Iceland to give passengers on both sides of the plane a view.
Flight data shows the flight making a detour in a perfect 360-degree loop around sixty minutes into the journey.
The strange divert drew attention from planespotters, but the reason was obvious given the strong Aurora forecast for the evening.
Airline tracking website Flight Radar 24 tweeted the unusual loop, saying it was “probably to allow passengers on both sides of the aircraft to see the fantastic aurora borealis.”
Passengers aboard the EZY1806 said that the crew dimmed the cabin lights and turned around to make sure passengers got the best possible view of the aurora.
“Big thanks to the easyJet pilot of EZY1806 from Reykjavik to Manchester who did a 360 fly-by mid-flight to make sure all passengers could see the incredible Northern Lights,” tweeted passenger Adam Groves.
Groves shared spectacular pictures of green, glowing lights over the wingtips.
Other passengers were thrilled to finally see the lights on leaving, after an unsuccessful trip to Iceland to hunt the aurora.
Elsewhere above northern Europe other passenger planes were also performing loops to see the lights. Finnair flight AY488 made an unscheduled 360 to show passengers the spectacular extra bright displays.
A separate service from Iceland to Scotland EZY35BM also did a double take after seeing the lights, looping back to give passengers a better look.
“We were lucky enough to be on the easyJet flight to Edinburgh from Keflavik,” said passenger Kyle Knox “The pilot of easyJet EZY35BM did a nice 360 for us.”
The BBC reported one couple who had been on honeymoon looking for the lights were delighted to finally see them on the flight home. Their previous attempts had been foiled by clouds.
This weekend the astronomers recorded a planetary Kp Index of seven, which can be used to predict aurora visibility. This “severe geomagnetic storm” let to excellent aurora spotting at both poles. In New Zealand clear skies and high magnetic winds led to some of the best views of the Aurora Australis (southern lights) in years.