This Is What The Northern Lights Look Like From Inside a U-2 “Dragon Lady” Spyplane

Aurora Borealis as seen from 70,000 feet.

Do you remember the stunning photographs from U-2 Dragon Lady pilot and friend Ross Franquemont we have published here few days ago?

Few days after we published those incredible shots, Ross deployed for an overseas mission. Although we don’t know anything about the purpose of the mission, we know that he saw the Northern Lights: indeed, the amazing images you can find in this post were taken by Ross during his mission from the UK.

You can see the ring of the Aurora as it sweeps around the magnetic pole. (All images credit: Ross Franquemont)
The Northern Lights appear to be extremely bright in this shot.
The Dragon Lady’s left wing and Aurora Borealis.

“I had no idea how fast the aurora moved and changed. It danced around, changing shape several times a second. That made it a challenge for the photographer in a spacesuit sitting in shaking metal can moving 500 mph,” Ross commented after shooting these shots.

A panorama picture of Ross Franquemont and the Northern Lights.

Aurora (“Aurora Borealis” or “Northern Lights” in the northern hemisphere and “Aurora Australis” or “Southern Lights” in the southern one) is a natural light display caused by the collision of solar wind and magnetospheric charged particles with the high altitude atmosphere (thermosphere).

Aurora Borealis as seen from 70,000 feet.
The aurora had mostly died out by the time the U-2 was hitting Greenland.

By the way, Ross has launched a Facebook group where you can see some of his best photographs.

All images credit: Ross Franquemont.

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About David Cenciotti 3629 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.