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Survey Results: Pilots Differ Strongly on Recording Flights and the FAA’s Response

Many of our surveys show great unity among pilots. Not this one.

Survey Results: Pilots Differ Strongly on Recording Flights and the FAA’s Response

Our recent survey soliciting your thoughts on the video recording of flights, the posting of those videos on social media and the FAA’s response to recent high-profile violations that were captured on video was a popular one. And the takeaway from your responses was, well, that there is a great diversity of opinion among pilots about all those subjects.

For starters, we were interested in finding out just how many pilots record their flights. The answer is, “A lot.” While the percentage of those who said they sometimes, often or almost always record their flights was between 15 and 25%, and depending on how you crunch the numbers, that percentage is lowered by the number of less-active pilots or non-pilot enthusiasts who answered the survey. Factoring that in as best we could, we concluded that the percentage of pilots who fly frequently who record those flights at least occasionally is between 40 and 50%, which is higher than we figured it would be. Of those, the majority have been doing it for a long time.

When it comes to sharing those videos on social media, the percentages are in line with that, as 20% said they posted their flying videos sometimes or often, which, when factoring in those pilots who don’t fly much, translates to a high percentage of active pilots. Our takeaway: Pilots who take videos of their flying like to share with people. (Which, on a side note, makes us happy, because we love to see those videos.)

One of the big questions we had was, how has the FAA’s willingness to go after pilots based at least in part on video evidence (often supplied by the pilots themselves) affected your willingness to video-record and post those recordings? Some survey respondents admitted that, yes, they have moderated their video activities due to the FAA’s recent investigations and enforcement actions. Nearly 40% of those who answered the survey said that they would post far more carefully or not at all based on these concerns.

Finally, we were curious to learn how you saw the FAA’s recent enforcement actions against high-profile flyers based at least in part on video evidence. Responses were strongly polarized, with more of you (35%) feeling the FAA was justified in all its investigations and enforcement actions versus around 15% who felt the FAA needed to relax its enforcement posture. In what we call “the Trevor Jacob effect,” more than half of respondents felt as though the agency was right in some of these investigations but too aggressive in others.


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