Airplanes as Art

There’s a nice article in Salon today. It’s the latest installment of my favourite Salon column, in fact: Ask the Pilot. I was sad when this column moved into Salon’s premium section. Hey, I like Salon, but I don’t actually want to pay for it. But the new daypass feature means everyone can read it, as long as you’re willing to sit though a 30-second commercial for the Mazda 6. And you know, as much as I hate popups and the like, this type of advertising doesn’t bother me for some reason. And, I can read my email while the ad plays. It’s a win-win: bravo, Salon!

But I digress. Ask the Pilot is a wonderful column, written with wit and insight by an ex-Pilot. Now, for some reason I don’t quite understand I have a deep-seated (and, many would say, macabre (see my book on airline crash black box transcripts for example) interest in the airline industry) so I just love the little anecdotes that Patrick comes up with. See his story about an encounter with an exploding loo at 30,000 feet for a good chuckle.

This article is about the aesthetics of the various airline liveries, rather than the usual technical or process-oriented fare. A nice comparison of the domestic carrier’s paintjobs, and a rather scathing assessment of Landor’s work (were you involved in any of these, Jay?). I was disappointed Qantas didn’t get a mention (they’ve stuck with the flying kangaroo logo as long as I’ve been alive and almost certainly longer), and I quite liked the old British Airways “World Image” look, although I can see the point about it being more like a wallpaper catalogue. But an interesting article nonetheless, well worth a read.

2 thoughts on “Airplanes as Art”

  1. Well, I wasn’t personally involved in any of these, but my dear friend Bill Larsen just risked life and limb to be in the Gulf to manage the Gulf Air program in the midst of that little war we had going on. I don’t think it’s as bad as our writer makes out. The big problem is that people who get into this are so nostalgic about the liveries. It’s like the joke “how many Episcopalians does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Three– one to change the bulb, one to mix the drinks, and one to talk about how much better the old lightbulb was.” Tradition-bound doesn’t begin to describe it.

    My former colleagues will be palliated somewhat by the praise for the Delta livery we did a few years ago. My friends Jeremy and Kenny did all of that design work, and even had to hang out while the first run of planes were painted. Apparently the design was super-difficult to reproduce.

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