In 1965, NASA commissioned a scientific expedition to "chase" the solar eclipse of May 30, 1965; the objective being to maximize viewing time for astronomers and instrumentation. The fastest jetliner of the time was chosen; the Convair built CV990. At the direction of NASA, additional optically enhanced windows were installed in aircraft N5601G along the upper fuselage. The aircraft was named "Galileo" by NASA in honor of the great Italian astronomer, mathematician, and physicist Galileo Galilei. Cruising at an altitude of 39,500 feet and attaining a ground speed of 585 miles per hour, 9 minutes and 42 seconds of eclipse totality viewing time was made available. For comparison, a person standing along the path of totality for the solar eclipse of 2017 will experience about 2 minutes 40 seconds of eclipse totality.
My father, Leo F. Buczynski, was the crew chief on this expedition and the pictures and movie clips on this page were made by him.
Additional expedition information.
Following the eclipse expedition, the aircraft was used for a number of other NASA research projects. Galileo was the first of the 990 aircraft used by NASA for research projects. Unfortunately, this aircraft met its end in a mid-air accident in 1973 at MoffetT field. Accident Report
Convair 880 and 990 Photo Gallery
Goleta Air & Space Museum
A History of Ames Research Center 1940-1965
|Click on an image for a larger picture.
The following Toutube video clip shows the aircraft is action. The aircraft is seen taxing in at Moffett Field and during some post flight inspections. Also shown are in flight wing views and some of the instrumentation that was installed on the aircraft for this expedition. My uncle, Stephen C Buczynski made a home movie out of the 16mm footage shot by my father.
The operational report TM X-1234; NASA 1965 Airborne Solar Eclipse Expedition, is available here in medium (17 mb) and low (7 mb) resolution PDF format. This report contains a detailed description of the expedition and includes many photos and illustrations.
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Copyright © 2015 Don Buczynski