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How an EO New Zealand member showcases the Southern Lights By Flight  — —

Is seeing the world-famous Southern Lights phenomenon in your bucket checklist? The Aurora Australis—additionally known as the Southern Lights—is the southern cousin of the Northern Lights. To witness this breathtaking spectacle, you would want to go as far south as Tasmania—however even then, the possibility of seeing the Southern Lights is spotty at finest, with solely a 1-2% probability on any given night time.

For individuals who wish to be sure that they’ll see the Aurora’s spectacular gentle present, Rachel Williams of EO New Zealand has the answer. Rachel and her firm, Viva Expeditions, created a service known as Southern Lights by Flight. It flies visitors from Christchurch, New Zealand down towards Antarctica and thru the Auroral zone and again—multi function unforgettable night time!

We requested Rachel about Southern Lights by Flight. Right here’s what she shared:

Is it true that Southern Lights by Flight was your Covid pivot?

Sure. Pre-Covid, we specialised completely in journey to Latin America and Antarctica. The pandemic was a horrible time as all enterprise ceased, adopted by repatriation, refunds, redundancies and just about each cost-cutting factor we may do aside from full hibernation. We would have liked to do one thing to generate income till worldwide journey resumed and Southern Lights by Flight was our resolution. Not solely have we stuffed the hole, we’ve got additionally created a top quality sustainable product that can proceed into the long run.

Is your organization the one one providing this distinctive alternative?

We created the service and are the one ones working it in New Zealand. I reached out to an astronomer who I knew had organised the same expertise for his pals and followers nevertheless it had by no means been commercialised. I requested him to assist me, and he agreed. So we went to the airline, chartered the airplane, and introduced our personal astronomy staff onboard to help the pilots with navigation.

Our enterprise companions in Australia subsequently launched related flights. Nonetheless ours is completely different in that:

  1. New Zealand is additional south than Australia, so it takes us much less time to succeed in the lively Auroral zone, and we are able to keep there for much longer. We have now an unique contract with Air New Zealand, so replication is just not attainable right now.
  2. The Worldwide Antarctic Centre is positioned subsequent to the airport in Christchurch. We have now enhanced our visitors’ expertise by together with an inspiring pre-flight mission the place folks study from astronomers and NASA educators in regards to the Aurora and may be part of images classes previous to the flight. (See our visitors’ in-flight photographs in our Fb Group.)

What challenges did you overcome round organizing flights to see the Aurora?

  • We coordinated with Greenpeace—they frightened about pointless burning of carbon—so we’ve got a radical carbon offsetting programme in place.
  • We had some upset households of the Erabus catastrophe (when a airplane stuffed with New Zealanders crashed into Mt. Erabus in Antarctica 43 years in the past). We don’t go to Antarctica however there was nonetheless a variety of push again.
  • We have now handled plane availability restrictions, rescheduling flights as a result of Covid lockdowns, and navigating continuously altering guidelines about gathering sizes, vaccination standing, and many others.
  • We needed to reschedule eight flights as a result of Covid lockdowns and have managed to get three away, with a lot of folks nonetheless ready for upcoming flights.
  • We have now accomplished all of it with a staff of 4 (we have been 14 pre-Covid)

Although there are not any questions of safety round flying via the Aurora, we additionally handle issues like:

  • All cabin lights are turned off when within the Auroral zone, so we offer everybody with a purple gentle torch that enables them to see with out impacting their night time imaginative and prescient.
  • We have now particular permission to show off the airplane’s exterior security lights (wingtips and roof lights), however that is accomplished on the premise that there are not any different planes inside 3,000km of us on the time of flying. 

How are you rising environmental consciousness?

At our pre-flight mission on the Antarctic Centre, we do an excellent presentation in regards to the setting and the way necessary Antarctica is in environmental safety and the work being accomplished by aerospace consultants within the discipline. We discover that individuals who have a ardour for Antarctica usually tend to assist shield it, so we goal to remodel our visitors into Antarctic ambassadors.

What does the full expertise entail?

The flights itself is 10 hours, departing Christchurch at 7pm and returning to Christchurch at 5am. So mainly it’s:

  • 3pm – Worldwide Antarctic Centre pre-flight mission expertise
  • 5pm – Verify-in and welcome drinks
  • 7pm – Boarding
  • Dinner on the airplane earlier than all lights are turned off and Aurora viewing begins
  • Numerous enjoyable all through the night time, roughly 6 hours of Aurora viewing
  • 3am – The lights come on for breakfast
  • 5am – The airplane lands and everybody disembarks feeling drained however utterly thrilled

What entrepreneurial classes have you ever discovered from this expertise?

  • To suppose exterior the field.
  • How one can market with a zero greenback advertising funds.
  • How necessary it’s to take care of your self with the intention to run a profitable enterprise.
  • How necessary relationships are, and why working collaboratively is usually a greater strategy than straight out competitors.

What’s subsequent for you?

I’m going to Antarctica in November, so I launched a MyEO journey to see who needed to hitch me. I now have 66 EO members coming onboard—which is fabulous.

We have now simply launched a 2023 Epic Antarctica MyEO Occasion and may have two very particular visitors becoming a member of us: Professor Mike Stroud OBE, the primary man to stroll unsupported throughout Antarctica and the Proper Honourable Sir John Key, former New Zealand prime minister and businessman. 



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