Olympic Athlete Captures Impressive Photo of Northern Lights from Airplane

northern lights

An Olympic-winning athlete and photography enthusiast ingeniously worked out how to shoot the northern lights mid-air whilst he was on a flight to Paris.

Casey Dawson is a U.S. speed skater, who took home a bronze medal at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China.

Dawson has also been a keen amateur photographer since he received his first camera, a Nikon D3100 DSLR, over a decade ago. He now regularly takes images on his travels around the world as a professional athlete.

@caseydawson24 Surreal experience @delta #travel #traveltiktok #northernlights #auroraborealis #fyp #photographer ♬ cardigan – Taylor Swift

During a recent flight to Paris, Dawson realized he might catch a glimpse of the northern lights, otherwise known as the aurora borealis, on his flight path as the plane crossed over Greenland. And Dawson knew he could not miss an opportunity to photograph the spectacular natural phenomenon.

In a viral TikTok video posted on Monday, which has over 1.5 million views, Dawson shared exactly how he managed to shoot the Northern Lights on his plane journey.

“There are a lot of perks for being a professional athlete at my level, and one of those is being able to travel to places for free to go to World cups, especially Europe and Asia,” Dawson tells PetaPixel.

“This past season I was on my way over to Poland, and I was thinking to myself that I might be able to see the northern lights just based solely on our flight path.”


Dawson realized that the plane was flying around the Arctic Circle in the region of Greenland where it would be around 02:00 local time — an ideal time to view the Northern Lights.

“I decided to pull out my camera in case, which is a Sony A7 IV with a Sigma 24-70 f/2.8, and I just kept my eyes locked on the sky outside,” he recalls.

“I finally saw a hint of green and just movement of what looked like strange clouds at the time because I did not know what to look for being my first time looking at them.

“I finally took a picture at around a sixth of a second for my shutter speed, and I was surprised at my result. The colors were so crazy on my camera, but they were hard to see with the naked eye.”

As Dawson took photos through his seat window of the northern lights, it quickly drew the attention of other passengers on the plane.

“I just kept snapping picture after picture, and people started to notice what was going on, and suddenly half the plane was looking out the left side window mesmerized,” he explains.

“I have been on many flights, but never one this magical because on half of them, I’m asleep the whole time.”

More of Dawson’s work can be seen on Instagram and TikTok.

Image credits: All photos by Casey Dawson