SOFIA in Europe

First scientific research flight over Europe

On Sunday the 15:th of September 2019 SOFIA 747SP N747NA departed her home in Palmdale, CA for the long atlantic crossing to Stuttgart in Germany.


Normally taking off at sunset, the local spotters at PMD were able to shoot her in better light this time.

Photo: Christopher McGreevy
Photo: Jim Mumaw

After a long night’s flying She arrived at STR in the early morning.

Photo: Sofiatelescope instagram

Elliott Kefalas was one of the happy spotters to have travelled to STR for the event. He got this shot of her in the morning, taken from the spotters terrass.

Photo: Elliott Kefalas

Later Elliott Kefalas entered the ramp at STR for the guided tour that was offered. He supplied this sweet shot. Hopefully we will see more of his shots from the tour.

Photo: Elliott Kefalas

First scientific mission in Europe

When SOFIA is here She will depart at sunset at 19:40 LT on Wednesday 18 Sept from STR for a nightly mission over Europe, returning to land at 05:00 LT.

As She flies her nightly mission over Europe She will fly over 12 countries and this route will bring her far north closer to the North Pole than She do when departing from PMD.

This is a very special occasion—SOFIA will be taking off from Stuttgart for its first European scientific research flight

Pascale Ehrenfreund, Chair of the DLR Executive Board

The closer the infrared observatory is able to fly to the poles, the less water vapour is present in the atmosphere above it, offering improved observing conditions. Source:

This will be SOFIA’s longest single observation on its first observation flight in Europe. The journey will begin south of the Swedish coast, over the Baltic Sea, and cross Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, the Adriatic Sea and Italy—almost as far as Sicily,

Clemens Plank, Project Engineer for SOFIA at the DLR Space Administration

Hopefully we will have plentry of spotters on location for her takeoff to see some nice photos.

SOFIA is scheduled to depart back home to PMD on Friday 20 September at 10:00 LT.

Related Images:

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Tommy Mogren
Tommy Mogren
Passion 4 Aviation and the 747SP in particular. Photographer and video producer. YouTube | Viking Wings

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