Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union

Bird's eye view of Shishaldin Eruption


  • Randy Showstack


As the Reeve Aleutian Airways' 727 banked sharply from its destination of the town of Adak in Alaska's Aleutian arc for an abort to the Cold Harbor airport at about 11:50 a.m. local Alaska time on April 19, the pilot of the local passenger carrier announced over the loudspeaker, “We have a unique opportunity here to see something we don't see very often.”

Out the left side of the plane, passengers including John Power, seated toward the back along an aisle, momentarily glimpsed a spreading volcanic ash plume billowing from the 2,857 m high Shishaldin volcano just 100 km to the west. The pilot took evasive action to avoid ingesting potentially damaging ash into the plane's engines.