Southern Illinois Airport hosting hundreds of planes for eclipse - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Southern Illinois Airport hosting hundreds of planes for eclipse viewing

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JACKSON CO. -- You can always see planes flying in the sky around Southern Illinois Airport outside of Carbondale, but before the eclipse, workers at the airport are expecting to have some of the busiest airspace in the country.

"This event, weather permitting, will probably be the largest influx of aircraft we've seen at this airport in our almost 70 years," explains Southern Illinois Airport Manager Gary Shafer.

With Carbondale pegged as one of the best places in the country to view the eclipse, Shafer has been taking a large number of calls from aviators who want to fly in to view the eclipse, and then fly right back out.

"We have almost 180 airplanes scheduled in here, including I think 30 or 40 jets," he said. "We have at least 800 people that will be traveling on those airplanes and spending time with us."

So to make it an experience the aviators won't soon forget, Shafer and airport staff are providing food, water and even eclipse glasses for the nearly 1,000 people that will fill the tarmac that includes folks from as far away as California and Canada.

"The advantage of aviation is you can climb in a jet and be somewhere in a short order, and so a lot of the jet traffic that day is coming in from a distance," he explains.

The airport can only hold 250 aircraft so they're already near capacity, but Shafer says no matter how many people come to southern Illinois, he has one main goal.

"To welcome them to this region, because we'd like them to come back again some day," he said.

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