The Airstream Blackout Rally

The Great American Eclipse of 2017 swept coast to coast across the nation last month, and the Oregon Airstream Club made the most of it.

by Bill Ferry

The sold-out “Blackout Rally” was open to members of the Wally Byam Airstream Club, and the Oregon unit hosted 125 Airstream trailers and filled nearly twenty onsite cabins with the friends and families of the Airstreamers. The NorCal Airstream club towed up from California on the “Journey into Darkness” Solar Eclipse Caravan, and with additional special guests attending on eclipse morning, the group swelled to 350 eclipse-watchers who gasped and cheered as totality slid into view on the morning of August 21.

Lake Simtustus RV Resort and Pelton Park—two side-by-side campgrounds near the eclipse centerline in Madras, Oregon—were reserved more than three years in advance. Three days of events kept the rallyers busy while they awaited the total solar eclipse: astronomy lectures and evening telescope starparties hosted by astronomer Brian Bellis from California, a drawing class, a geology lecture, catered meals each day, Cachaça spirit tasting at happy hour, and a “Day on the Dock” water recreation party followed by an Antsy McClain concert, both sponsored by Airstream Adventures Northwest (Airstream Inc.’s #1 dealer). A “Hot Dogs for Hot Shots” fundraiser lunch brought in more than $2000 for local firefighters, who have been working tirelessly to prepare for the eclipse and fight back persistent late-summer wildfires ongoing in Central Oregon.

On eclipse morning all eyes were on the sky; Airstreamers and friends wore custom eclipse glasses (and several modeled wacky tinfoil hats). Several telescopes were positioned to study sunspot activity and keep track of the partial phases of the eclipse before and after totality. Photographers snapped beautiful images of the wispy solar corona, and one attendee even captured a startling video of a skydiver who sailed across the eclipsed sun.

by Bill Ferry

After totality the group enjoyed a catered brunch and a champagne toast delivered by special guest Thomas D. Jones, NASA astronaut and spacewalker. Jones gave a fascinating presentation about the ongoing role of NASA missions, and answered questions about what it’s like to live and work in space.

by Paul Buescher

– By RG Coleman