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5 Aug 2022

SOFIA plans to fly over Christchurch again in the next few days

NASA’s flying telescope known as SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) is hoping to make a flyover of Christchurch to thank the city for its support of the deployments.

On Monday, August 8, SOFIA’s flight crew plans to make a test flight to check the aircraft out after recent repairs. The intended flight plan will mean residents across the city and parts of the South Island, in areas listed below, can go outside to see and hear (definitely hear!) the iconic 747SP fly overhead.

The plan, weather and performance permitting, is :

Depart Christchurch Airport at approx. 10 – 10:30am
Fly a loop around the South Island conducting a range of checks. This would include flyovers of Mt John Observatory,  Rangiora Airfield, Christchurch city, Christchurch Airport.

All going well, the flyover of Christchurch will be from Sumner to Cathedral Square and over Hagley Park, to land back at the airport about 90 minutes to two hours after takeoff.

Best views for Christchurch people will be outside their schools, homes and workplaces as the famous aircraft flies overhead about 75 minutes after takeoff.

However, adverse weather or any concerns about the aircraft will see this plan abandoned and the plane return to Christchurch as directly as possible.

If the test flight goes well and engineers and pilots are happy with the results, SOFIA will make final preparations to leave Christchurch around midday on Thursday, August 11, on their way home to California via Hawaii.

Keep an eye on Flight Aware and the airport Facebook page on Monday for any more details, once weather and timing has been confirmed.

To learn more about SOFIA see here.