To Paris and back!
February 9, 2006 10:05 PM   Subscribe

Pilot's eye view of a three day trip [Youtube]. A pilot at American Airlines made this video of his three-day trip from Boston to Paris and back so his young daughter could see where he worked. It's all shot from the pilot's perspective so there's plenty of eye candy for the aviation and gadget geeks. On his day off, fly4fun catches a cruise on a Bateux-Mouches river boat, sees the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, and grabs a few pints in Parisian pubs (including the expat bar, Le Mazet, where the last official sighting of Jim Morrison took place). It's all edited with iMovie and set to U2's Vertigo. [more inside]
posted by junesix (44 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The video reminded me of my childhood dreams of becoming a pilot. The innocent quality also hearkens back to the nostalgic 50's and 60's era of aviation when pilots and stewardesses were envied for their ability to jet off to faraway countries. It's my opinion that an "underground" video commercial like this could do far more to raise AA's profile than all the cheap-seats more-legroom multiple-flights-per-day commercials in the world.

P.S. My first post in the blue - I did OK?
posted by junesix at 10:07 PM on February 9, 2006

That's pretty fun.
I was always under the impression that pilots and stewardesses never had time to go see the sights in the cities they fly to.
Maybe that's only for domestic?

The little girl at the end was priceless.
posted by madajb at 10:20 PM on February 9, 2006

Good stuff, junesix.

Damn impressive camera work. His shots reflect a pretty decent amount of planning and imagination. And while the editing repeats some effects a number of times, he puts them to pretty good use. It's the rare home video that doesn't make me cringe or drowsy.
posted by Mercaptan at 10:25 PM on February 9, 2006

Wait, I can't take pictues of the George Washington Bridge but this guy gets to take a video camera onto the tarmac and into the cockpit?

No fair!
posted by ChasFile at 10:25 PM on February 9, 2006

What a cool dad! Great job, junesix!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:39 PM on February 9, 2006

Airline Pilots,
The overpaid bus drivers of the sky.
posted by matkline at 10:53 PM on February 9, 2006

I am skeptical.

Something here is not quite right.

Do I detect yet another attempt at guerilla marketing?

This time for American Airlines (with a professionally edited video)?

Or, am I just 'to jadded?'
posted by ericb at 11:00 PM on February 9, 2006

*too jaded*
posted by ericb at 11:00 PM on February 9, 2006

Ignore me, if you think/feel otherwise. "No harm, no foul."
posted by ericb at 11:14 PM on February 9, 2006

Definitely 'to jadded', ericb. What a neat video. The end is wonderful.

Thanks, junesix! You done good!
posted by redteam at 11:28 PM on February 9, 2006

Awesome - great clip. the music works perfectly - a very polished piece. But I can see why you would question it, ericb - it sure doesn't seem like the work of an amateur. Regardless, great post, junesix!
posted by madamjujujive at 11:47 PM on February 9, 2006

i'm in the same boat as ericb, the video had some je ne sais quoi about it... trying too hard to look like it was made by an amateur, but with almost-perfect editing.

Tho I too think I'm to jadded, so the point is moot.
posted by slater at 11:57 PM on February 9, 2006

and set to U2's Vertigo

thanks for the warning
posted by matteo at 11:58 PM on February 9, 2006

At first I was with Alvy Ampersand, but now I'm starting to think I may be with ericb.
posted by wsg at 12:11 AM on February 10, 2006

Aw, look at all the cynics! I enjoyed it, it made me remember why I sometimes wish that I too was an airline pilot. One of the pilots had a huge grin on his face when he was reversing the plane out of Boston; I wish I felt that gleeful when I walked into my classroom every morning.
posted by chronic sublime at 12:16 AM on February 10, 2006

Marketing so good, it feels like the Real Thing.

In which case, who cares? It's CUTE!

OTH: It doesn't make me want to fly American. But I make every effort to only fly business class for long flights, and prefer Virgin. I value leg room.
posted by Goofyy at 12:17 AM on February 10, 2006

Along with the suspiciously high production values (and supsicious diversity of camera angles -- some shots only seem possible from a crane), I reiterate my incredulity that video cameras are allowed anywhere near the place where the pilots prep for the flight, nor on the tarmac, nor least of all in the cockpit. From what I understand, the security measures that pilots must pass through are ten times tighter than those for passengers; smuggling a camcorder on board seems farfetched. And as I said before, I can't imagine that if I'm not allowed to take pictures of the GWB that pilots are allowed to film even half of what he did.
posted by ChasFile at 12:25 AM on February 10, 2006

I swear this isn't a part of the ad-or-not debate, I'm just curious: is this what home video looks like now? That is, was this filmed with something you could get at, like, the mall? If so, I'm really impressed. I thought camcorders sucked...? Why do all those online skits look so awful?

The only thing I have to add to the debate is that it's possible the guy just genuinely likes working at American Airlines. I mean, if I made a short movie about my job, it would probably seem like a mini-ad for my company. I love those knuckleheads. Not all of us spend our day in a "veal fattening pen" blogging about how much we hate our "McJob" while filling out look-at-me-I've-seen-a-movie "TPS Reports."

On the other hand, who's filming most of those shots? It's not really a pilot's eye view at all, is it? It's more of "suspiciouly omnipresent friend who's willing to spend a flight to Paris filming over a pilot's shoulder"'s eye view.
posted by Ian A.T. at 12:32 AM on February 10, 2006

To be honest, I suspected something as well (The long sweeping shot of the plane, with the AA logo perfectly centered set off a bell), but I really enjoyed it, and I figure we would have heard something about "American Airlines Gets 'Vertigo'; licenses U2 Song For appalling Sum" if it was an official ad. I'd like it anyway.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:43 AM on February 10, 2006

On the subject of seeing things from the pilot's point of view, there are a series of articles on, written by another AA pilot about a flight from JFK to Rome. Can be a little technical but interesting all the same
posted by jontyjago at 12:45 AM on February 10, 2006

Geez, come on guys? This is exactly the sort of thing that I've done in the past for my girlfriend. If you wanted to make something really really cool, especially for a child that you miss for days at a time, wouldn't you spend ages editing to make it look good?

junesix - this is a great post and well formed too. Thanks!
posted by triv at 12:59 AM on February 10, 2006

i haven't seen this cuz i'm on dial-up. but i think there's a difference between the desire to impress a hot chick [or a general audience] and the urge to share with family the reality of what steals ones time. one's a document, the others a creative process, both with different motives.
posted by Kino at 1:20 AM on February 10, 2006

see, dial up does have its advantages.
posted by Kino at 1:40 AM on February 10, 2006

Sorta reminds me of my very first bit of video editing, of our last holiday as a family in LA. (Still makes my mum weepy when she watches it)

I dont think its is an AA marketing ploy. I dont see anything in the video that I wouldnt have done myself (framing the AA logo....he works there, and he wants to show his daughter what he does!)

Cutting to music and trimming out the fat makes videos like this, and holiday videos so much more enjoyable.
posted by lemonfridge at 2:03 AM on February 10, 2006

I skimmed through the video, just to see what this ad/not-ad thing was all about.

Production values?
It's obviously a mini-dv camera, consumer model.
Everything else can be done, easily, with some post-production software. What's this supposed "crane shot" people were talking about? I couldn't find it.

In general: some shots are held too long, the shots shake too much and no one with any self-respect (yeah George Lucas, I'm looking at you) uses clock-wipes. Inconsistent lighting/white balance (though I've seen worse) etc. etc. If anything, the footage _may_ have been cut together by someone else from the tapes handed to them by the pilot, but I doubt it. People these days are quite film-technique savvy.

Also, I've seen video shot with a camera in a commercial airline plane cockpit. Of an aborted landing. So security not that big an issue as such.

Now, this isn't criticism as such. It's extremely well done and I enjoyed it. But it's not professional.
posted by slimepuppy at 2:06 AM on February 10, 2006

If this is guerilla marketing, they're doing a superb job, because in the thread about the video, there's a extremely plausible post by the the movie's creator. Look for the longish post by GetYourFlyx.
posted by blue mustard at 3:37 AM on February 10, 2006

Doh, here's the linky directly to the thread.
posted by blue mustard at 3:39 AM on February 10, 2006

This was NOT a viral advertisment for AmericanAirlines.

slimepupy is right, this was done by a pilot, for his daughter, in iMovie. You'd be suprised what you can do with basic tools and a decent idea..
posted by blasdelf at 3:41 AM on February 10, 2006

knowing that commercial airline pilots go by names like 'GetYourFlyx' doesn't really instill me with confidence. yeah, get your flyx on dawg.. oops, watch out, mountain!
posted by Kino at 3:59 AM on February 10, 2006

If it is true that this isn't viral marketing, then I wonder how much U2 will care about this guys possible use of their music in his video?
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:39 AM on February 10, 2006

Oh my, not only was this exciting and visually interesting, but having the idea that it was for the pilot's daughter in my mind made the final scene bring a tear to my eye. Absolutely wonderful.

And let's be clear -- though this may not be guerilla marketing by definition, it is certainly viral marketing. However, it is among the most ideal, pure sort of marketing -- that which comes when your employees have enough passion about their jobs to share their experiences with those they know and love.

The internet is a unique enabler for such things -- the best marketing can hope for is to replicate the impact and authority of recommendations from close friends. These days, we have more friends from more places, and the "sitting at my desk in my house" factor makes them closer than they might normally seem. Kudos to American Airlines for making this employee's experience rewarding enough that he was willing to share it with the rest of us...
posted by VulcanMike at 4:45 AM on February 10, 2006 [1 favorite]

Don't worry VulcanMike... AA will probably fire him for misrepresenting the company without authorisation, the RIAA & U2 will sue and fine him for using that song without proper copyright clearance and then the American Govt. will convict him for being a potential terrorist and for breaching airplane security.

But maybe I'm cynical.
posted by slimepuppy at 4:54 AM on February 10, 2006

The overpaid bus drivers of the sky.
You'd be surprised, matkline. I know a couple of pilots and both of them had to fly for years before they made a decent wage. It's not a particularly high paying job and it's difficult to get seniority.
posted by jrossi4r at 7:02 AM on February 10, 2006

The code for that secure door is 2-6-2-9.
posted by crunchland at 7:42 AM on February 10, 2006

this is freaking awesome, thanks.

yeah, matkline, you might want to check your impression.
i know it sure as shit seems easy to fly when you're sucking down brews in row 38, but there's plenty to it.
posted by Busithoth at 8:17 AM on February 10, 2006

I noticed the same thing crunchline, but which door is it?

I think this is wonderful stuff. It never once occurred to me that it might be a marketing gimmick (thought I suppose that's the definition of great marketing). It's the pilot waking up in his underpants that made it convincing to me - for some reason I can't see AA allowing for such a candid shot.

Also: it's comforting to see that the pilots don't eat any better than the passengers in steerage do.
posted by aladfar at 8:53 AM on February 10, 2006

I enjoyed the video. It's not hard to imagine that the skills needed to fly a plane (precision, concentration, mechanical ability, spatial skills) could transfer well to operating a video camera.

Also, if it had been paid for by American, I really doubt the bar scene would have made it into the video, as airline industry caught a lot of flak a few years ago for drunk pilots. I loved the way the eiffel tower made the one guy think of a tall glass of beer.
posted by hazyjane at 8:55 AM on February 10, 2006

the music ruined it, as someone said above.

you shouldn't inflict your bad taste in music on me and i won't fly your plane.
posted by dydecker at 9:24 AM on February 10, 2006

Yes, home video can look this good. The guy has a Mac. He edited it in iMovie.

iMovie HD *rocks* for small projects like this. I'm not sure why folks are so skeptical. *shrug*

Marketing? The guy made the video over a year ago and only recently put it up on youtube. (Read the comments, he's been replying to some of them.)
posted by drstein at 9:32 AM on February 10, 2006

Wow, check out this belly landing. I'd fly with this guy any day.
posted by darkness at 10:00 AM on February 10, 2006

Glad everyone's enjoying the link.

I read into the thread that blue mustard mentioned and came up with linkage for our amateur director, Kent Wien. This isn't his only video though the others are more aviation-focused. This should be sufficient to justify that he's not an AA marketing pawn.

The code for that secure door is 2-6-2-9.
He mentions in the thread it's a scrambled keypad - the numbers on the keys are mixed up every time.

Wow, check out this belly landing.
Simply amazing. I love how everyone calmly walks out of the plane with their luggage as if this type of landing was expected.
posted by junesix at 10:07 AM on February 10, 2006

[damn, this error'ed out first time, hope it doesn't double]

I showed the video and comments to a friend of mine who is a pilot for American Eagle, the largest regional for American Airlines. Basically that means instead of flying overseas to Paris, the farthest distance he flies is from Chicago to California or NY, and the jets are a little smaller.

He believed the video was shot as described and thought it was pretty cool. Remarks made on various posts here follow:

No problem using a video camera in the pilot's ready room or on the tarmac unless the airport has some specific security regulation against it. He doesn't know of any such airport, though, and he's been at quite a few.

Pilots don't have special security measures to pass through to get to their plane. After they are in a secure area, they are good to go. Once my friend shows his pass to get into employee parking at O'Hare, he is in a secure area and does not have to go through screening. Pilots are badged with both their airline and airport ID's, so presumably someone wandering about without proper access would get challenged pretty quickly.

Continuing from the previous security remarks, commercial pilots are an integral part of the security system, and not like Joe Unknown Passenger to be continually screened. The "ten times tighter" security for pilots is the process they go through to become and remain a pilot: for example, background checks, random drug/alcohol tests, and mandatory yearly security training. Pilots have absolute discretion over whether the plane takes off if they think anything is unsafe or insecure. My friend recently delayed a flight for 3-4 hours because someone didn't make their seat, but a piece of their luggage had already been loaded on the plane. Though the ramp crew bitched, he had them unload all the luggage and reload only what was for seated passengers.

Operating a video camera in the cockpit is also at the pilot's discretion. Operation of one in the passenger area is not allowed because there is no control over who has what piece of potentially interfering equipment running. In the cockpit, though, any interference would be immediately noticeable and attributable. Apparently they err very much on the side of caution with this one, because there are few if any known cases of interference. Still, the caution side is likely to be the side you want to be on.

The over the shoulder viewpoint is from someone filming in the cockpit's jumpseat.

The drinking rule for American pilots is 12 hours bottle to throttle, so there shouldn't be an issue with the pilots drinking on their off-day. Note that the FAA mandated minimum is 8 hours bottle to throttle, but company rules are approved by the FAA and become the de facto regulation. That means the 12 hour rule is, for American pilots, an FAA requirement.

Oh yeah, and despite the fact that it's a hoary humor cliche', flight attendants really do get pissy if you call them "stewardesses".
posted by mdevore at 12:07 PM on February 10, 2006 [1 favorite]

no flight attendant in the hotel bed?
posted by dontoine at 1:56 PM on February 10, 2006

Very cool, thanks for sharing!
posted by blendor at 4:32 PM on February 10, 2006

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