Ten years ago today, while flying down to Miami, my sense of style wound up almost costing Thanksgiving and leaving behind a permanent record with the FBI. Spending a lot of time traveling, its hard not to notice that although we are far from the golden years of chic air travel, there is still something quite right about the American Airlines classic dress uniform, a tip of the hat to the pilots uniforms and how, with its brilliantly fascist company logo, there is a slight military air to the whole thing which is admirable.
So, out came a small point and shoot Leica film camera and just as the flight attendant leaned un self consciously against the galley entrance to fix her hairpin, I asked if it was ok to take a quick picture. She said yes and in an instant the camera went back into my bag as quickly as it came out. One frame, on film, two hours of flying left and I didn't give it another thought.
When we landed they made an unusual announcement that we would be going to a special gate and that everyone must remain seated with their seat belts fastened until given further instructions. As we pulled up, I noticed several police officers with guns out waiting on the landing and all of the sudden I felt something sticking into the back of my head. "Put your hands up!" It couldn't be real, this huge movie scene could not be all about me!
So, yes, there are air marshals on flights. I was taken off the plane and "escorted" into a questioning room and eventually found out it was all due to my taking that picture. The crew somehow decided that I could have been trying to take a picture of the cockpit door and had radioed the authorities in flight. Funny enough, because it wasn't digital, I had nothing to show them and eventually they understood it was an innocent and inconvenient mix up.
The best news was that when I finally developed the one lone roll of film that one crazy frame was there and the moment had been captured. Little Squares Style. I've always loved that image and will never take a picture on an airplane again.