Monday, November 22, 2010

The (fabricated) news that's fit to print according to the LA Times.

It's been a while since I've written a post and I'll get a new one up shortly, but I'm compelled to address this news account by the Los Angeles Times. Here's the headline.


Somewhere over America in a pilotless jet airplane!


I don't know how you read this, but I had visions (see above) of a pilot at 35,000 feet, sweat poring from his brow, feverishly beating on the cockpit door trying to regain entry as his B-767 sped through the atmosphere at mach 80, mothers with young children crying and praying for help. How could this have happened I wondered? Well, rest assured... it didn't.

OK, I really didn't think that, but I'm certain that many, unaccustomed to air travel, had  visions of a drone commercial jet floating through their mind. And it's exactly what the writer intended when he wrote it and the editor hoped for when he approved this misleading caption. But after you read the article you eventually learn... Oh, they were on the ground, at the gate at LAX and the flight was delayed. Here, you can read it for yourself.

I don't mean to minimize the situation; an unspecified number of paying passengers, people whom I depend upon for my livelihood were regrettably inconvenienced, as well as others downline whose transportation was linked with this aircraft or crew. From my viewpoint though, the reader has been mislead purposefully in an attempt to sell newspapers. This is journalistic sensationalism at its best and the news media wonders why readership is down and trust in their product is low. 

Headlines that once only appeared in the ENQUIRER are surfacing in mainline publications like the LA Times these days. I'd hardly consider them a news source after reading drivel like this. 


  1. cstclair@pelmorex.comNovember 22, 2010 at 1:15 PM

    Agreed .. really dumb writing (it doesn't count as journalism). This variety of sensationalism is written by the lowest common denominator for the lowest common denominator .. oddly it's written - I didn't think they still knew that old art form..

  2. Huh. Sloppy writing, but perhaps not deliberate sensationalism. It did not occur to me to interpret it as "locked out while flying", because I could not imagine both pilots leaving the flight deck at the same time.

    My Rules to live by: Golden, Ockham's, ...
    and Hanlon's :

    "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity"

  3. Unfortunately - what happens here is - sensationalism sells - the more sensational the story can seem - the more it will sell print.

  4. philip@armstrongfilm.seNovember 23, 2010 at 9:23 AM

    Hi Rand. Thank you for your blogg!

    Very interesting!
    But isn´t there a glipse of a chance that this COULD happen while flying? (Ofcourse I understand that pilots don´t leave the flight deck at the same time... but "what about if?" - for some reason...) I believe you have some kind of backup system, and I understand if you can´t tell about it here. Just let us know that you know what to do if that happens... ;-) / KR Philip from Stockholm

  5. Philip,

    Could it happen? I suppose but it would be hard to imagine. When one of us leaves the cockpit a flight attendant comes in while another blocks access to the cockpit door with a food cart. There's really more to this but as the saying goes, if I told you, I'd have to kill you. I wouldn't want to do that!


    I know that you couldn't imagine this scenario, but to novice travelers it may not seem quite so difficult to believe. Do you know where we are in the second picture?

  6. philip@armstrongfilm.seNovember 24, 2010 at 2:57 PM

    Haha! Thanks Rand,

    And thank you for a greate news letter! I can spend hours at your site!

    BTW do the executives at Delta know about your blog? This blog is, what I think, very good PR for Delta and the flying business. This is what people want. Someone who's talking directly to the clients and enthusiasts in a very interesting way. You should have a raise!!! (If they don´t know about this I should tell them!!!).

    Keep on the good work!!! ;-)

    / KR Philip from Stockholm

  7. Hi Rand,

    I'm not sure what picture is "second", but if you mean the Qatar Airbus with the little Fokker landing on it (snicker)... I'm not sure. Some airport with a 9R/27L taxiway Y. Maybe Philadelphia, about in the middle by the UPS ramp?

    Have a great holiday, where-ever you are.

  8. Oh, if you mean the thunderstorm picture, you are obviously setting up for the VOT-alpha at LAS. ;)

    Didn't know FMS/GPS guys like you still do the VOR check.