Aviation Videos Presented Simply Because They Are Interesting

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

The first one is a concept video from Aero Glass, a company working on an “augmented reality” way to display traffic, airspace, glide paths, taxiway information, and other useful features for pilots of ultralights, gliders, or other small aircraft. The video is from 2014; the company’s updates on its progress are here. I have no idea whether this will ever actually work, but I hope it does, and the video is a lot of fun to see.

Aero Glass Original Concept Video from Aero Glass on Vimeo.

The second may seem strange to people outside the aviation world but will, I think, be funny to people inside it. It’s a deliberately self-mocking presentation, which I probably should have posted on April Fool’s Day, parodying the rest of the aviation world’s view of Cirrus pilots.

The Cirrus is of course the only mainstream plane that comes with a built-in parachute for the entire aircraft. (It’s the kind I bought as soon as it came on the market, 16 years ago.) Over the years I’ve frequently posted about parachute saves; as pilots have become more willing to use the parachute in emergencies, much as military pilots might use an ejection seat, the fatal accident rates in Cirrus has significantly declined.

That’s led to the joke that the only way Cirrus pilots can get an airplane down is with the parachute. Thus the premise for the video. It’s full of little lines that will will amuse people in pilot-world. (“Most people don’t realize that you can land the plane, and then use it again! It’s a multiple-use aircraft, not a one-and-done, as many pilots believe.” “Cirrus on 24-mile final, straight in, last call” etc.) Done with admirable deadpan skill.


Bonus: I haven’t yet tried a very interesting-looking free app, from the University of Minnesota (with National Science Foundation backing), called Flyover Country. It’s designed to answer the air-traveler’s question, What is that lake/desert/mountain/city we’re passing over right now? It works from your phone’s GPS to call up maps, photos, and other explanatory info. Smithsonian magazine had a fascinating intro to it here. Will check it out and report back after the next airline flight. (We don’t need it in the Cirrus, because knowing just what you’re flying over, at least on VFR days, is an important part of the navigation process!) This would make a nice complement to our ongoing Notes feature “America by Air.”

From the U of Minnesota site.