Spokane man takes to the skies to view the eclipse

People around the world are going to be migrating to some of the best viewing spots for Monday’s eclipse, including folks in the Inland Northwest.

Some are going to drive, others are going to fly.

Tom Tabbert earned his wings in the Navy.  Now, he takes to the skies in a different kind of craft.

“These things are like jumping in an aircraft that sprouts wings and you fly,” Tabbert said.  “There’s no cockpit, there’s nothing around you, the wings are low or high, … your view is mostly unobstructed.”

Tabbert is flying around for the eclipse in an aircraft called a trike, a powered hang glider that gives an unobstructed bird’s eye view.

“So it is as close to really flying naturally as you’re about going to get,” Tabbert said.

The trike offers a great vantage point.  Tabbert likes to share his flying experiences on his YouTube page, which contains dozens of point-of-view videos throughout the country.  His videos have more than 350,000 views so far.

“What’s really profound about this type of an aircraft is its open cockpit concept. I mean it’s completely open,” the trike pilot said.  “Or, doing low levels and getting so close to the ground you can smell the weed of the palouse or the mist off the ponds.”

Tabbert said his trike can go more than 10,000 feet in the air and 75 miles per hour at ground speed.

“It is exhilarating.  It’s breathtaking,” Tabbert said.  “And it’s scary, all at the same time.”

Tabbert will take off for Oregon Friday.

“I was a sophomore in high school during the last eclipse, so I’m really looking forward.  I think this is going to be a really unique event to see what an eclipse looks like from 10,000 feet,” Tabbert said.  “And for two minutes and nine seconds, where we’ll be at down near Unity, Oregon, we’re just going to have this massive eclipse happen and see what it’s all about.”

Tabbert said his goal for the trip is to capture footage of the eclipse and to make it back in one piece.

“Because we’re going to capture some outstanding footage, whatever we get,” Tabbert said.  “And, you know I leave my expectations fairly low in that, because it’s going to be a great, great adventure.” 

© 2017 KREM-TV


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