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Pilot diverts plane to give passengers better view of volcano

By Barry Neild, CNN
updated 10:15 AM EDT, Mon September 8, 2014
Volcanic smoke billows from Mount Aso on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu on Wednesday, November 26. The volcano is blasting out chunks of magma in its first eruption in 22 years, prompting flight cancellations and warnings to stay away from its crater. Volcanic smoke billows from Mount Aso on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu on Wednesday, November 26. The volcano is blasting out chunks of magma in its first eruption in 22 years, prompting flight cancellations and warnings to stay away from its crater.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Icelandair pilot loops back to give passengers a better view of Bardarbunga
  • Volcanic activity around Bardabunga recently caused Iceland to raise an aviation alert
  • In 2010 an Icelandic volcano caused weeks of disruption to flights to and from Europe

(CNN) -- Erupting Icelandic volcanoes have been known to ground flights, but this time they kept one up in the air as a pilot looped around to give passengers a better view of the spectacle.

The extraordinary detour over the smoke and lava-spewing Bardarbunga volcano was captured on camera by one passenger and the image was later posted on Twitter by the airline.

"Our pilot made an extra circle around #Bardarbunga this morning to let passengers check it out," it said, thanking Erla Vinsy for the photo.

"Taking a short detour via a circle back around the eruption area, passengers on both sides of the aircraft were treated to an aerial view of the eruption while flying safely over the center of the action," Icelandair said in statement released later.

It's not often passenger plane pilots turn tour guide, with most sticking to dry commentary about airspeed, altitude and weather and confining off-flightpath maneuvers to holding patterns above busy airports.

Volcanic activity around Bardarbunga in August prompted Iceland's Meteorological Office to briefly raise the aviation threat level to red, its highest.

There were fears of a repeat of the travel chaos of 2010 when a huge eruption from another Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallajokull, led to weeks of flight cancellations.

The alert related to Bardabunga was lowered to orange just days later and restrictions dropped, but officials said seismic activity was continuing at the volcano.

Volcanic ash can be a serious hazard to aircraft, reducing visibility, damaging flight controls and ultimately causing jet engines to fail.

From a safe distance though, it's got to be worth a second look.

MORE: Icelandic town frozen in time by volcano

MORE: Descending into an Icelandic volcano

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