In recent years, airplane pilots have started taking pictures of themselves in the form of selfies which have become very popular on the Internet. This includes not just pilots from commercial flights, but also ones from the air force. Even flight attendants have jumped onboard this trend and started taking selfies as well. While it’s unclear who started it first, it is clear why this is happening. Because certain aspects to flying such as navigation are now being primarily handled through onboard computers, the pilots don’t have to be as involved anymore.
Even the automatic pilot which was used as a joke in the movie Airplane has become so advanced that pilots don’t even really need to fly the plane itself except for takeoff and landing. So as a result, pilots have a lot of time on their hands that they don’t know what to do with, and thus have resorted to doing things like taking selfies. While some of these are done deliberately to promote certain airlines, as there has been a shortage of pilots recently, they’re more of a distraction than anything else. Then with air force pilots, it’s mainly to show off the amazing views they can get from being so high up in the atmosphere. But some pictures are more regrettable than others.
30 “U-2 Pilot” - High Up There
Compared to fighter jets, which are generally used for combat and escort purposes, Lockheed U-2 planes serve a different purpose. Used for reconnaissance missions, they fly much higher above the ground than fighter jets do. Hence, the U-2 pilot in the above picture is wearing a uniform that’s similar to the kind that astronauts wear in space since the air gets thinner the further one goes up in the atmosphere. Though it’s unclear where this picture was taken, since the landmarks that are partially visible outside the pilot’s window aren’t clearly distinguished, it’s a visually breathtaking image nevertheless.
29 “pilot_selfie” - Pretty Daring
As is the nature of most trends, certain people will try to add a new or daring angle to it that makes their take unique compared to the other examples. Consequently, there will be copycats. Such is the case for the above picture, where the pilot is seemingly leaning out the cockpit of the frame to take a selfie just like the Internet celebrity PilotGanso who did similar pictures. However, they turned out to be photoshopped which appears to be the case with the above picture due to the unusual way the plane’s wing clearly stands out from the background.
28 “Flight Attendants” - Awkward
Now in this picture, the awkwardness is less about the contrast in smiles and more on the expressions in general. While the flight attendant on the left is pursing her lips and looking directly at the camera behind her, the other is looking at the back of her colleague with a surprised-looking smile. It’s like the former attendant decided to be flirty with the photographer, while the latter is surprised that she's doing this. Although, we don’t really know what the context is behind this image except that the former attendant’s expression seems deliberate while the other seems accidental.
27 “Red Arrows” - Jolly Good!
For those of us who lived near an airport, we often had the chance to see airshows being performed by a mixture of biplanes and fighter jets that were specifically commissioned for entertainment purposes as opposed to actual combat. In America, we have the Blue Angels who perform at several airports across the country. Then Britain’s equivalent would arguably be the Red Arrows, which the above picture originates from. As the name implies, the Red Arrows’ planes are red in color and they are commissioned by the British Royal Air Force whose symbol is partially visible on the planes’ wings.
26 “Stewardess Selfie In Formal Work Uniform With Red Bow” - Don’t Trip!
Compared to the flight attendant with the somewhat bold makeup on her face, this woman’s makeup is undeniably bold. From the cat’s eye-style eyeshadow to the bright red lipstick, she looks like she’s proud of it whereas the previous one looked like she was trying to cover up her wrinkles which were somewhat noticeable. Now makeup aside, the above picture appears to have been taken at a weird angle and the background implies the attendant is stepping out of the plane. Some obvious clues to this include the hatch-like outline and the light coming in from the side.
25 “Risk-Taking” - Ground Control in the Shot
When one or both people in a picture are making awkward faces, that can be annoying in retrospect for the one who took the picture in the first place. But nothing is more irritating than having someone in the picture who wasn’t supposed to be there. Whether it was accidental or intentional, this kind of moment usually isn’t noticed until the picture is taken. For instance, the above picture has a man in a blue jumpsuit (presumably a member of air traffic control) standing to the left of the fighter jet pilot who’s probably not aware of the other guy.
24 “Life In The Flight Lane” - Looking Tired
Due to the nature of the job, pilots and flight attendants for commercial airlines are expected to travel constantly from airports at different locations to various planes that require their services day and night. So naturally, one might expect these guys to get tired eventually. Well, look no further than the above picture showing the two flight attendants who are taking a selfie together. Apart from the minimal amount of makeup on their faces, with the one on the left as the exception, some other telltale signs of their tiredness include the noticeable bags under their eyes and weary smiles.
23 “Hey! No Scaring The Passengers!” - Lawsuit Coming
No matter the circumstance, pilots should always be considerate of their passengers. After all, the passengers are putting their own safety into the pilot’s hands with the expectation that nothing bad will happen to them. Plus, they’re the ones who rate a pilot based on their performance. Now this could be problematic to the pilot if they do something that the passenger doesn’t like, as shown in the above picture. While it’s unclear what the pilot (right) did, the noticeable angle of the cockpit implies they are ascending at a steep incline which is probably what’s scaring the passenger (left).
22 “Cockpit Chronicles” - Who is at the wheel?
While the proposed scenario for the previous image may be debatable in terms of whether someone really did interrupt the two pilots to take their picture or not, there’s no doubt the above picture was taken by one of the two pilots. Presumably, it was the balding elderly man since he’s closer to the camera than the female pilot. Now their smiles may not be as expressive as the others, but they seem more genuine in their realism. Yet the combination of the bright light behind them and the uncomfortable closeness of the man’s face make this an awkward picture.
21 “Flight Attendant Selfie” - Doesn’t Look Natural
While the previous picture was mostly fine except for the flight attendant’s pose, this one has two things working against it. First, the light coming in from the window behind the flight attendant is blindingly bright creating the same kind of lens flare issue that some of the other pictures have had. Then secondly, the flight attendant’s smile seems really forced in combination with her wide-eyed expression. Plus, the makeup she’s wearing comes across as a bit too bold in color and not natural in the slightest. Overall, it’s like looking at a Barbie doll that’s come to life.
20 “Blog posts from August 2016” - Bad Lens Flare
Now compared to the previous U-2 pilot selfie, this one isn’t as good by comparison in terms of quality. First of all, the light coming through the windows on either side of the pilot is so bright that it not only blinds the viewer but it also obscures the outside world. Then because the pilot is wearing a glass helmet, it naturally reflects the light creating an obvious lens flare across the helmet’s surface and even the suit since it is orange in color. As a result, we’re left with a picture that’s not visually interesting to look at.
19 “Hong Kong Airlines Walk-in Cabin Crew Recruitment” - Must Be ‘This’ Tall
Like with most jobs, airlines go through recruitment periods where they’ll select various applicants and have them go through a series of interviews and trials. While some things like drug tests are typical, others can be seen as questionable. For instance, the above picture that was taken from a recruitment set-up shows a flight attendant in uniform holding up a ruler implying that she’ll be measuring the height of the other woman to the left. Though this seems weird, measurements are important in terms of uniform-fitting and determining if the applicant can fit inside a plane or not.
18 “If this is real, it’s probably the best selfie ever” - Neat!
To begin with, let’s take a look at some pictures taken by air force pilots that are too good to pass up as a way to show how good selfies can be before we get into the embarrassing ones. This one, for instance, has the pilot leaning back with the camera presumably rigged in front of them showing not just a reflection of the sky in the pilot’s helmet but also the spectacular view behind them. While the snow-capped mountains curve in the background, they complement nicely with the two other jets on either side of the pilot’s jet.
17 “Air Serbia” - Very serious work
Though one is expected to express genuine emotion when a picture is taken, there are certain circumstances where one has to smile whether they want to or not. One such circumstance is professionalism, especially when the job-in-question requires one to be courteous and pleasant in behavior in order to make the people they are serving feel comfortable. This is especially the case for flight attendants, who are smiling for the camera in the above picture. However, while the flight attendant on the right has a very pleasant smile the one on the left’s smile is a bit underwhelming.
16 “Defense.gov Photos” - Maverick!
While this picture isn’t as visually balanced compared to the previous one, it’s still cool to look at with the ground below being tilted down at an angle on the left side of the pilot despite the picture’s vertical frame implying a sense of straightness. It forces one to give the picture a second glance, especially when there’s the three jets flying above the pilot’s head at a tilted angle in congruence with the ground. Plus, the pilot’s own jet is tilted slightly judging by the partially visible tails on either side of them making for a visually trippy picture.
15 “Qatar Airways” - Not How a Selfie is Done
Of all the pictures that have appeared on this article, whether they were cringe-worthy or not, could at the very least be considered as “Selfies” since the camera was never present in the shots as the person took the picture of themselves. Now this one attempts to follow the same procedure with one major flaw: the phone is visible in the shot as the flight attendant is taking a picture of herself via the bathroom mirror. While she could’ve arguably done this in order to get a better shot of the uniform she’s wearing, it ends up being distracting.
14 “F 16 pilot taking selfie” - Dynamic View
Like the first selfie, this one also has a pilot taking their picture just as two jets fly along either side of them. While the adjoining jets are clearly distinguished since they’re closer to the pilot’s own jet, the ground is unfortunately clouded by what appears to be haze below the clouds and contrails which are more clearer by comparison. So as a result, we get a picture that has a balanced aesthetic but doesn’t quite have all the elements working together compared to the previous ones. Still, that doesn’t take away the visual impressiveness of the picture in general.
13 “Cabin crew uniform June 2013” - It must be a very funny joke
Throughout this article, we’ve seen a wide range of smiles so far. Some were minimal and lacking in effort, while others were wide and seemed unnatural in their enthusiasm. In the above picture, we see clear examples of these with the flight attendant on the left making a slight smile towards someone offscreen while the one on the right has a much wider smile by comparison. Now, there is a fine balance between genuine and contrived happiness in terms of expression. But if one were to look at the two flight attendants objectively, it’s clear whose smile is more genuine.
12 “How Pan Am Flight 50 flew from pole to pole” - A Bit Confused
Going back in time to the 1970s, we see that even then awkward pictures were taken of flight attendants. Though unlike the previous picture featuring the flight attendant with the pursed lips, the one in the above pictures has her lips pursed less in a flirtatious manner and more like she was either in the middle of talking or giving a confused look to someone offscreen when the picture was taken. In either case, it’s not exactly clear why the flight attendant is holding her jacket partially open except for the possibility that she was giving instructions to the passengers.
11 “the king of all jump seats” - Waiting Patiently
Depending on where the plane is going, the time it takes to get from one airport to another might take anywhere from a few hours to a full day with multiple stops along the way. In either case, it can feel like a long slog for not just the passengers but also the flight crew. So to pass the time, some people like the flight attendant in the above picture read from something which in her case is a magazine. Though considering that she’s seated in front of the lavatory/bathroom, she might be waiting for it to be unoccupied.
10 “Pilot Carrie Clark” - Cute but Irresponsible
When it comes to pilot selfies, female pilots tend to be the most popular. This is not only due to them being physically attractive, but also because they break the stereotype that most commercial airline pilots are male. With that said, the above picture which shows the titular pilot standing in a field while a large commercial jet flies overhead does raise a few questions. For instance, who’s steering the plane? Because if that’s the plane the pilot is supposed to be flying, it seems irresponsible to be on the ground taking a picture instead of being in the cockpit.
9 “September” - Less than Enthusiastic
While the pictures so far have featured one pilot in them, what happens when there’s two of them? It ends up being something like the above picture, which shows two pilots inside what appears to be a small plane judging by the size of the cockpit and the design suggests it is not a fighter plane. Like the previous picture, there seems to be a lens flare issue with the way the light is being filtered into the cockpit. In addition, there’s a notable contrast between the smiles of the pilot in the front and the one in the back.
8 “Billy Williams” - Awkward Smiles All Around
Depending on how one feels about smiles, they can imply genuine or contrived happiness while some can be just awkward to look at. For instance, while one could argue the pilots in the previous picture were smiling awkwardly at least the pilot seated in front’s smile looked more genuine than the other. In the above picture, though, the smiles of the two people are awkward in general. This isn’t helped by the woman on the left not looking directly at the camera as she’s got a full smile going, while the man on the right is barely smiling by contrast.
7 “Jackson Sisters” - Caught Off-Guard
Compared to the previous two pictures, the pilots in this one are certainly putting more effort into their smiles for the camera. In addition, they’re even making thumbs-up gestures which is the universal sign to imply that everything is a-okay. Yet even here, there are some awkward elements such as the female pilot’s wrist being bent in a way that makes it seem like she’s bending her wrist backwards. Plus, her smile and the male pilot’s seem forced like they were suddenly caught off-guard from their duties by someone who wanted to take a picture of them.
6 “animal league” - Confused Pup
Though unpredictability is a given for every picture that’s taken, there are two things that are unpredictable no matter what anyone can do to make them comfortable before their picture is taken. One of these is children, and the other are animals. Such is the case in the above picture, where a male pilot is flying above somewhere with a dog sitting behind the cockpit. While the pilot looks relatively calm despite staring partially away from the camera, presumably to concentrate on flying the plane, the dog is looking directly at the camera with a confused expression on its face.
5 “‘No Pictures’ Policy” - Not Enforcing the Rule
While it is technically not illegal to take pictures onboard a plane, as pilots and flight attendants do that themselves, the same does not necessarily apply to passengers. Due to several incidents where passengers were kicked off of commercial flights as pictures and videos of them went viral on the Internet, some airline companies have adapted certain policies such as allowing flight attendants to tell passengers not to take pictures or not allowing passengers to take pictures onboard in general. Yet the above picture was taken by a passenger while the flight attendant further up conveniently had their back turned.
4 “Women in Aviation Archives” - Who Let These Kids In?
Because children and animals are generally unpredictable, they can be nerve-wracking to have onboard a plane though especially the latter. Children, on the other hand, are allowed so long as they behave. While the children in the above picture seem a little rambunctious, and the awkward smile of the flight attendant on the left emphasizes this, the nearby seats are clearly empty so it’s easy to assume that there isn’t anyone else on the plane at the moment. Then judging by the similar pattern on the children’s T-shirts, that further implies this must be an aviation-themed tour.
3 “how to be a cabin crew member” - Weird Pose
As stated before, some selfies taken by pilots and/or flight attendants can be used to promote certain airlines. Such appears to be the case for the above picture, judging by the title alone. Though it’s unclear which particular airline the flight attendant is promoting, we can take a guess that it’s probably a British airline since the design on the rudder of the plane model looks similar to the British flag. Now while the smile on the flight attendant’s face looks genuine enough, albeit a bit forced, the way she’s touching the underside of the plane model looks awkward.
2 “Flight crews can’t stop taking mile-high selfies” - Comfortable?
As mentioned previously, some people will take a trend and try to do something creative with it. So in the case of flight crews taking selfies, this attendant decided to lie on top of a row of seats with one hand touching the luggage compartments above while the other is pressed against the side of her head. Her smile suggests an expression of coyness, along with her general posture with her skirt pulled up slightly revealing more of her legs. While some of the other pictures on this article may have come across as flirty, this one is especially so.
1 Caught Wearing the Same Shirt
Because of the demands that flight attendants have to deal with in terms of travel, it can be a very stressful job as they have to look presentable to people but still be practical as far as packing is concerned. So some people like this male attendant here have invented ways to make their lives easier, which in his case is packing multiple copies of the same shirt he’s currently wearing from the one he’s holding to the one that’s partially visible from his suitcase. Now that does seem handy from a practical perspective, in case one shirt receives damage.
Resources: pinterest.com, flickr.com, twitter.com