Pilots of Instagram:
December 16, 2014 1:06 PM   Subscribe

 
The followup article by qz is the finest example of the No Fuck YOU principle at work, and I salute them wholeheartedly.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:15 PM on December 16, 2014 [9 favorites]


Here are mine.

My now-wife actually pushed the button on the camera for most of them, and she actually has a pretty good eye for what's interesting so I just have to give her the camera and tell her to take photos while I'm doing the flying. I do all the processing work afterwards, though. And if I'm solo at altitude, I'll just let George (the autopilot) fly and I'll take the photos myself.

I have no particular opinion on commercial airline pilots doing this except to say that I'm sure the NTSB would be very interested in the photos if they need to pull them out of a smoking hole in the ground.
posted by backseatpilot at 1:20 PM on December 16, 2014 [8 favorites]


I wish I could laugh... my favorite are the pilots who admit, "The captions were lies!"
posted by muddgirl at 1:23 PM on December 16, 2014


2014 was officially the year of semi-organized harassment campaigns by entitled internet shit-heads.
posted by empath at 1:25 PM on December 16, 2014 [44 favorites]


You should see the pics surgeons take while they have your body opened up.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:26 PM on December 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


Well, I'm not supposed to use the internet at work for goofing off either, but here I am.

Here are mine.

I did a lot of steep turns around this ball!
posted by bondcliff at 1:26 PM on December 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


My friend the pilot bought an ipad to play Sudoku while flying a 747 to Melbourne and back seven times a week, so I'm guessing we're in a breach/observance scenario w/r/t the glowing rectangles, here.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:29 PM on December 16, 2014


as a trial lawyer, I took some killer closeups of the jury during my closing arguments.

seriously, fuck those pilots. I can't stand people who think rules (especially those pertaining to the safety of others) don't apply to them.
posted by jayder at 1:31 PM on December 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


2014 was officially the year of semi-organized harassment campaigns by entitled internet shit-heads.

The glory of this sentiment is its universal applicability.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:31 PM on December 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Thorzdad: no, you really don't. Trust me on this.
posted by cstross at 1:33 PM on December 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


You should see the pics surgeons take while they have your body opened up.

....Uh, I actually have. The doctor showed them off to me, my parents, and the guy I'd just started dating, to explain to all of us exactly what had transpired in the emergency surgery I'd just undergone. One of THE most surreal moments of my life.

(We all reacted quite differently - I was too stoned on morphine to really register what was happening, my mother went into full-on "oh my poor baby" mode, my father looked desperately like he wanted to be in a different room, and the guy kept thinking he wanted to get a copy and bring them to work and ask people "wanna see a picture of my girlfriend?")
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:34 PM on December 16, 2014 [14 favorites]


You should see the pics surgeons take while they have your body opened up.

It's the video that's really the worst, because of the squishing sounds.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:36 PM on December 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


Man, the internet is people are gross.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 1:36 PM on December 16, 2014


Their front-of-the-plane vantage leads to beautiful photos of sunsets and other planes zipping by.

Is there some advantage that makes them better than the passenger-window vantage? I have taken a lot of photos from that vantage point. [feel free to identify any of those without labels, thanks!]
posted by not_on_display at 1:40 PM on December 16, 2014


You should see the pics surgeons take while they have your body opened up.

My mom used to work for a group of urologists, some of them would make xmas cards for their urologist friends with that year's favorite "check out what my patient got his penis stuck in" picture.
posted by peeedro at 1:45 PM on December 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


Another person joining in the harassment appears to be Ben Reiver, an officer with the New York Police Department.

Because of fucking course.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:45 PM on December 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


that surgeon who branded the Queen's liver?

He's also figured out that aircraft can donate organs:

"Mr Bramhall came to attention in 2010 when he transplanted a liver saved from a burning aircraft into a patient."
posted by hank at 1:48 PM on December 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


Fantastic photos.

This post reminded me about some more mysterious cockpit photos from the summer and to check in for an update.
posted by audi alteram partem at 1:50 PM on December 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


branded the Queen's liver

Queen Elizabeth Hospital is the name of the hospital. But if every patient who goes there's royalty, that's fine by me: I was born there.
posted by ambrosen at 1:52 PM on December 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure if I ever took pictures of the inside of my workplaces and then posted them on the internet, my job would be in jeopardy. And that's without violation of federal laws.
posted by el io at 1:54 PM on December 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


The Sterile Cockpit Rule at low altitudes is not a joke. As the old saying goes, flying is 99% boredom and 1% terror. But even when something goes wrong mid-air, you generally have plenty of time to figure it out and deal with it (the occasional tragic accident not-withstanding).

Takeoff and landing are different; the ground is very close and things happen very fast. Even in a routine landing I don't much like the idea the pilot flying would be fiddling around with a camera, even a couple seconds' distraction is dangerous. Both the time lost and also getting your head out of the cockpit.

I'm not going to go so far as to concern-troll or condemn pilots for taking some pictures while at work, but it does make me a bit uneasy. I prefer to assume these photos all come from an automated shutter.
posted by Nelson at 2:00 PM on December 16, 2014 [9 favorites]



I suppose I shouldn't post these, then.
posted by pjern at 2:02 PM on December 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


pjern: meh, private plane, no worries for me.

Don't get me wrong, the FAA restrictions are pretty silly... If having wifi on caused a plane to crash, 99% of commercial flights would crash. Sure, 95% of the folks on airplanes put their phone into airplane mode, leaving what, only 5% of DEATH CAUSING DEVICES CAUSING PLANES TO FALL FROM THE AIR?
posted by el io at 2:06 PM on December 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's only prohibited if it's handheld, right? Because pretty sure Garmin sells a whole system for mounting one of their high-end GoPro-like cameras in small aircraft and I don't think the purpose is to identify the license plate of that jerk who cuts you off on the taxiway.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:06 PM on December 16, 2014


I'm amazed at so many pilots justifying this behaviour. I wonder what these guys would say about people taking selfies from inside the air traffic control tower.
posted by kisch mokusch at 2:06 PM on December 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


I thought qz was being douchy by printing the names of pilots but that feeling has been completely negated by these pilots' responses. Wow.

Anyway, here's some legal porn via PilotsEYE.tv. These guys sell sets of multiple DVDs recording entire plane rides start-to-finish from the cockpit via a bunch of mounted cameras and, apparently, a guy riding in the jumpseat with a handheld camera as well.

My favorites: The retiring Lufthansa pilot landing an A380 at SFO and a Swiss Air crew handling a failing A340 engine mid-flight.
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:08 PM on December 16, 2014 [10 favorites]


Here's my aerial photos, although only about a third are when I'm the pilot flying. Never did get my Zeppelin type rating.
posted by Nelson at 2:09 PM on December 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I did a lot of steep turns around this ball!

That's funny because I'm pretty sure it's one of those post-9/11 "don't loiter here lest the F-15s come find you" type of places.
posted by backseatpilot at 2:29 PM on December 16, 2014


This is what happens when you forget to use #latergram.
posted by oceanjesse at 2:29 PM on December 16, 2014


a Swiss Air crew handling a failing A340 engine mid-flight

As well as aviation/competence porn, that's also very good accent porn.
posted by RogerB at 2:43 PM on December 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


pjern: "I suppose I shouldn't post these, then."

I worked in the WTC, the south tower. I had lots of meetings at Windows on the World. I can't tell you how disconcerting it was to see small planes fly by BELOW your window. Took a while to get used to. Those were different days and different times.
posted by 724A at 2:44 PM on December 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


That's funny because I'm pretty sure it's one of those post-9/11 "don't loiter here lest the F-15s come find you" type of places.

I stopped lessons some time in 2000. Back then we could walk I to the flight school, grab the keys and walk right out to the ramp. No security check or anything. I have not been to BED since but I assume it's different now.

"the balls", as they were known (assuming they're the same ones) were in what was generally known as "the practice area."

Nice photos. I am jealous.
posted by bondcliff at 2:48 PM on December 16, 2014


You should see the pics surgeons take while they have your body opened up.

Early this year I had an angiogram. In the cath lab they made a point of putting a towel over my genitals to reassure me that I wouldn't be "exposed." I was like dudes, I don't care if you post it on Facebook if you save my life.
posted by localroger at 2:49 PM on December 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


You should see the pics surgeons take while they have your body opened up

I have seen quite a few of them. It's not too unusual for them to snap photos of interesting variant anatomy, the work that's in process or other stuff in the middle of a case. The patient's body is generally fully draped and all identifying features are covered up. Also not unusual for docs (particularly at teaching hospitals) to ask permission to take iPhone snapshots if they come across an interesting and teachable finding while they're examining you.
posted by killdevil at 3:03 PM on December 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also why the fuck is Quartz giving these pilots such a hard time? They're endangering people's jobs over harmless photos.
posted by killdevil at 3:05 PM on December 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


some of them would make xmas cards for their urologist friends with that year's favorite "check out what my patient got his penis stuck in" picture

Yeah. Which is all very funny until you change the order a little and "got his penis stuck in" becomes "got stuck in his penis".
posted by The Bellman at 3:06 PM on December 16, 2014


The response of "meh, general aviation pilots get to do it" seems a bit strange considering how often general aviation pilots crash their planes.
posted by ryanrs at 3:13 PM on December 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


Also why the fuck is Quartz giving these pilots such a hard time? They're endangering people's jobs over harmless photos.

If they're not against the rules, then no one's job is being endangered.

If they are against the rules then they endangered their own jobs by posting them to Instagram, which is not private.

I don't really see what Quartz did wrong here, nor why the pilots would be upset that they were "caught" doing something that they allege is not illegal or against the rules.
posted by muddgirl at 3:14 PM on December 16, 2014 [14 favorites]


Also why the fuck is Quartz giving these pilots such a hard time? They're endangering people's jobs over harmless photos.

If the regulations aren't actually making us safer, the FAA should change them. Regardless, it doesn't seem like a good idea that breaking flight regulations should be seen as normal. All Quartz is doing is pointing out the incongruity between the written and unwritten rules; the ball is in either the pilots' or the FAA's court to resolve it.
posted by anifinder at 3:22 PM on December 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


Also why the fuck is Quartz giving these pilots such a hard time? They're endangering people's jobs over harmless photos.

I think it's because a pilot taking a photograph while he's supposed to be flying a plane, especially close to the ground, endangers people's lives.
posted by Turkey Glue at 3:29 PM on December 16, 2014 [17 favorites]


I love how so many of you are all "how DARE someone on the internet endanger our access to pretty pictures!"
posted by jayder at 3:30 PM on December 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Here are some more details about the sterile cockpit rule and the shit that happens when pilots are distracted by something as simple as a conversation. Really, if you're below 10,000 feet with a yoke in front of you and messing with a phone, you're kind of an asshole.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:38 PM on December 16, 2014 [10 favorites]


Swiss Air crew handling a failing A340 engine mid-flight yt

Ok, that was a fantastic ad for SwissAir. I respect any pilots who a)seem to be totally focused and working in synch; and b)understand that chocolate is essential to handling any crisis.
posted by TwoStride at 3:58 PM on December 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


In fairness, I can see how this is a tricky thing for a pilot to understand, if the only criteria is "the end justifies the means". None of these photos caused an accident, and the co-pilot probably had his eyes on the runway too, and there are a million bells and whistles to warn you of impending doom, and I'm a professional pilot, jeez, let me have fun.

But I think it's hard to appreciate how much ground a vehicle travels in a second. More than once I have looked up from my phone or MP3 player to brake lights I did not expect, and that half-second lost me 50 feet to make a decision that ends with my car in one piece. That half-second in an airplane traveling ~230 miles per hour is even more crucial, especially because you have a third dimension in play, and slamming on the brakes is not an option.

Airlines are rightfully risk intolerant, so, while rules like this might be an annoyance to pilots who are bored stupid or want to share their view with the world, they're an attempt to build an environment without interruptions, because an interruption is a difference of 500 feet, which may be a difference of 200 fatalities. Unfortunately, it feels inevitable that a pilot will miss his only chance to avoid dumping his 737 in San Francisco Bay because he was fussing with his phone. Once billions of dollars are on the table, the response to this article will look different.
posted by Turkey Glue at 4:00 PM on December 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


I understand the pilots' point about long-haul cruising altitudes; even the airline admits as long as one person's on it, it's fine. But during take offs and landings? Not so much.

Also:

The agency also referred to an incident when two pilots flew past their intended destination by 150 miles because they were both distracted by personal laptops.

I really hope they were in some 2-player fighting game.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 4:26 PM on December 16, 2014


from RobotVoodooPower's link:

"The crew believed that they then landed without contacting the tower and receiving landing clearance"

As a passenger, all I can say is sterile cockpits now, sterile cockpits forever.
posted by longdaysjourney at 4:32 PM on December 16, 2014


“It’s hard for people to understand, but during the first 30 minutes of the flight, you’re as busy as a guy can be,

Apparently, not busy enough?

Look, I don't want to die because a pilot is snapping a selfie during takeoff or landing, ok? (also, he or she is going to die too, you'd think that would be important). I love pretty pictures from the air! Bring your off-duty buddy along in the jump seat and let him take some. Just don't make me and a few hundred other people into smears on the runway because you need more Instagram favorites for your awesome takeoff picture.
posted by emjaybee at 5:31 PM on December 16, 2014


Worth reading: an airplane pilot's take on the whole thing.
posted by Godbert at 5:39 PM on December 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Flying a plane, once you are past takeoff and well out of the pattern is actually quite easy when you can see the horizon, there is a lot of margin for error in both time and space. Easier than driving a bus in a city certainly.

This is decades ago. You could just go and rent a Cessna 172 for like 50 bucks an hour and that only applied to engine time. Jim, my friend became a licensed instructor who went to flight college in eastern washington state. His training was really intense. They required you to be able to make weather predictions preflight, including altitude estimated by barometric pressure and location dependent on vectors of wind speed. Keep in mind this was before GPS.

Jim would have to fly IFR with a hood obsucuring everything but the instruments - literally flying blind.

We were coming in nicely red over white on 28 Right on Boeing field and Jim was practicing instructing and said "Dave you are going to land the plane" I said "no I'm not", Jim said - clicking in over the headphones - "Yes you are.".

You can bounce a Cessna 172 really really hard.

But there are no fender-benders in the air.

It's a part of the problem really, that flying, save takeoff and landing, doesn't require a level of attention that driving does and flying an airplane is an adolescent dream. And of course paying pilots minimum wage where many have to work other jobs, are exausted, and can barely make a living is gambling with lives.
posted by vapidave at 5:50 PM on December 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Some folk here don't seem to understand that the rules they're talking about apply specifically to commercial, passenger flights.

The sterile cockpit rule below 10,000 feet is one thing, but a big part of the article is about photos and videos taken at cruising altitude and here's the thing: it's only against the rules if the device has wireless capability. It's okay if it's a small digital camera without bluetooth or wifi. It's against the rules if it's a small camera with bluetooth or wife. Doesn't matter if the bluetooth/wifi is off, it can't have it at all. So many of the photos that they're saying were against the rules were only against the rules for this reason.

It's not about paying attention, even though that's part of the rationale -- because the rules allow pilots to read books while at cruising altitude.

So what we have here is a combination of two very questionable things -- that devices that are wifi-capable but where the wifi turned off are still a problem, and that mysteriously a laptop or smartphone causes a greater attention deficit than does a novel.

I think the pilots are right to be annoyed about this, the rules are dumb.

As for the sterile cockpit rule below 10,000 feet, that rules seems to be perfectly sensible. Note that it doesn't allow even any talking that's not about operating the plane (according to the article). However, it's not clear whether any of those photos were taken by someone in the jumpseat to whom that rule wouldn't apply.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:52 PM on December 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


"I'm a white male with an important job! Let's find other rules that don't apply to me! "

This is pretty much all I'm hearing from the loudest objectors.
posted by clvrmnky at 6:20 PM on December 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Here's the thing. Some of the rules are really smart. (Sterile cockpit)
Other rules are really dumb (distinguishing safety between operating otherwise identical devices, one of which has a disable wifi chip within it and the other which does not).
And in other cases it isn't entirely clear what the rule is (Does a wifi enabled GoPro with wifi turned off that is set up and turned on before flight operations begin cause the operator to be in violation of FARs because it is still running?)

The article as written comes across as a hit piece that doesn't distinguish between any of these factors. I'm all over the sterile cockpit violations. The others, not so much. I'm not sure either side comes off looking good in this.

With all that said. I think the FAA should aggressively work to reduce sterile cockpit violations while also addressing the fact that long haul flights at cruising altitude with auto-pilot have become so automated that pilot attention and boredom are a real issue.
posted by meinvt at 6:59 PM on December 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


Oh, computers can be much more engrossing than novels can be; I'm not really against pilots being limited in what mobile computing they can do while flying, though I don't know where the limitations should be. I don't see the issue with selfies during non-takeoff/landing, or a wifi-free camera just sitting there taking shots every 10 seconds during takeoff/landing (or videotaping the whole thing).

And, yeah, it's impossible to tell whether some of these pictures were okay and some weren't, but since the pilots' responses seem to be "let's harass this guy a lot" (though there are really interesting comparisons to be made between how he was harassed and how women are), I'm inclined against them.
posted by jeather at 7:04 PM on December 16, 2014


I would rather fly with a pilot who takes pictures in the air than one who makes death threats on the internet. But fortunately, with some of these commenters you don't have to choose!
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:08 PM on December 16, 2014 [8 favorites]


And, yeah, it's impossible to tell whether some of these pictures were okay and some weren't, but since the pilots' responses seem to be "let's harass this guy a lot" (though there are really interesting comparisons to be made between how he was harassed and how women are), I'm inclined against them.

It's also telling that a lot of them shut down their accounts or went private after being contacted by the author (before the article was published). If there is nothing wrong with what you're doing, why would you react in such a way?

I'm inclined to see it as a clash between their ego ("I'm an important, highly trained pilot and I'll be the judge of what's safe and what isn't thank you very much") and the more sober part of their brain that tells them that, "well actually, you're employed in this position of immense responsibility because you follow procedures to the letter and don't deviate from them."

Regardless, as muddgirl pointed out, it is not the journalist's fault for pointing this practice out. Take it up with FAA.
posted by kisch mokusch at 7:26 PM on December 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


My mom used to work for a group of urologists, some of them would make xmas cards for their urologist friends with that year's favorite "check out what my patient got his penis stuck in" picture.

Imagine what proctologists' xmas cards look like.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:23 PM on December 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


When it comes to worrying about commercial planes crashing I am much more worried about small jet and turboprop connector airlines flown by exhausted pilots with less than adequate recurring training than I am by the possibility that a pilot is snapping a picture in VFR flight. The threat to safety does not come from entitled white male pilots but from the entitled corporate executive suites at the airlines.
posted by Pembquist at 10:42 PM on December 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


Anyone who characterizes this article as a "hit piece" isn't paying attention. Or didn't, you know, read past the lede.
posted by clvrmnky at 4:56 AM on December 17, 2014


It's not too unusual for [surgeons] to snap photos of interesting variant anatomy, the work that's in process or other stuff in the middle of a case. The patient's body is generally fully draped and all identifying features are covered up.

* nods * Yeah, I just remember a bunch of vaguely glistening pink blobs, and one black one that he said "this is what we had to take out" and I just sort of thought "yeah, that was probably good they did that".

I was stoned, but I was also kind of fascinated - but I'm kind of weird about that kind of thing. I own an x-ray of my own broken foot - they gave it to me to give to my orthopedist, but he'd already gotten a copy of the scan they uploaded to the web and didn't want it, so I just kept it. I'd probably keep, like, MRI scans of my head or weird shit like that if I had it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:18 AM on December 17, 2014


Note that the rule doesn't cover cameras or photography, done with a device that doesn't have wireless, when not under sterile cabin rules. From TFA:

Cameras are not forbidden at cruising altitude if they don’t have any wireless capabilities. It’s possible the photos in Air Line Pilot magazine were taken with such cameras.

That's what makes the Quartz article kind of cheap shot, for pictures taken in regular flight (not when sterile cabin rules are in effect.) Photos are being used as a proxy for smartphones, and the danger from smartphones is not photography but becoming engrossed in games and other apps.

Even the wifi capability is being used as a proxy for the presence of a high res screen, an OS and a CPU than can do things that are more fun than staring at cockpit instrumentation. (But, reading material and puzzles and games on pen and paper are allowed....)
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:19 AM on December 17, 2014


I obviously don't know anything about flying, but am I right in seeing that Swiss airplane just sprayed 50-some tonnes of jet fuel into the air over somewhere? That just seems so ... wasteful and polluting!
posted by jillithd at 8:04 AM on December 17, 2014


Is there anyone suggesting that medically-appropriate photos are wrong, a safety hazard, or against any rules? Its pretty standard to give patients copies of these kinds of photos or films, and if they're part of your medical record you have a right to them anyway.

I'm pretty sure this comment:

You should see the pics surgeons take while they have your body opened up.

was more about stuff like this painfully eponymous comment :

My mom used to work for a group of urologists, some of them would make xmas cards for their urologist friends with that year's favorite "check out what my patient got his penis stuck in" picture.
posted by peeedro

posted by Room 641-A at 8:05 AM on December 17, 2014


Room 641-A, I took the surgeon's-photos comment as an innocent joke ("pfft, this is something that NEVER happens, I'm sure") - and it's just irony that not only does this actually happen, but people in the thread can report on it having happened to them.

It's all good, though. I'm not actually weirded out by the existance of those photos or think it's a bad thing, if that's what you're thinking - at most the doctor could have waited until I was dressed and had sobered up, but maybe being on morphine while looking at them kind of helped?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:51 AM on December 17, 2014


I know that surgeons take photos during surgery, but the important question is: Do they post them on Instagram?

Because if so I'd like to see that...
posted by muddgirl at 10:25 AM on December 17, 2014


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