On 30 June 1973, a Solar Eclipse occurred which lasted 7 minutes and 4 seconds. A group of scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory (New Mexico, USA) had an idea to extend the period of totality. Their idea was to follow the Moon’s umbra* in two separate airplanes. One of these planes was a prototype which eventually became the Concorde SST.
On the day of the eclipse, they intercepted the Moon’s Umbra while flying over North Africa at Mach 2.05 (697.5945 m/s). They managed to experience totality for 74 minutes. Flying at an altitude that ranged between 16 000 m and 17 700 m provided near perfect viewing conditions as atmospheric absorption was reduced and weather problems usually associated with solar eclipse observations were eliminated.
On a related note, a solar eclipse will occur on March 20th, 2015! The Faroe Islands (Kingdom of Denmark) and Svalbard (Norway), two Islands slightly north of Europe is where totality can be viewed. Totality is expected to last just over 2.5 minutes. A partial eclipse will be seen in Europe, north-central Asia, the Middle East and the most northern part of Africa. Please exercise extreme caution if you attempt to view the eclipse. Via Facebook.