Cockpit Camera's

Commercial Flights - Lot’s of video’s out there from the cockpit where they are allowed (mainly ROW airlines, not domestic where I don’t think it is condoned these days). But…

This post is mainly a topic for those that, here in the US, had the experience of seeing the early “thrills” of being able to see the landings on commercial flights if the Cap turned it on.

Back in the 60’s when I had my GA Pilots license in PHX I had the great experience of flying on American, PHX to KORD, and the Cap came on and announced the he was going to turn on the Camera for the approach to ORD. Afternoon flight and WX was clear. He told us “the next time you see my hands on any controls we will be almost on the ground”. I think that got a LOT of attention from the PX’s.

I knew about ILS and other systems but never experienced this at the time! The Cap turned it on when we we approx. 2000’ AGL and, on final. He had his hands and arms lifted above his head and we could see the runway out of the front windows coming up. The aircraft adjusting to make the approach but not due to him.

The big DC-10 floated down to near the “numbers” and then he did the flare up to land and the whole plane applauded (like the last time the Bears won something) as the pilot brought the plane to the taxi ramp. :laughing:

Now a days, they do not have these anymore, probably for legal reasons, but I will always remember that experience.

I am a channel 9 “junkie” when I fly commercial (if they have it on anymore) and enjoy that more than movies or sound. I have heard many intersting converstations over the years between the AC and ATC but, that is another topic eh?

Any comments on Cameras and Cockpit broadcasts here in the US for us that would love to enjoy the flight aspects vs. eating junk food and watching a out of date movie?

Don - Semi Retired in Denver

Great tale Don, but the DC-10 didn’t enter commercial service until August of 1971.

I’m a pilot from the same era (early 60’s) but I don’t recall seeing onboard cockpit video feeds before about the mid 70’s.

A fellow retiree,


60’s-70’s, who’s counting, the small details get lost in the sauce with you old guys :wink:

You only truly come to appreciate how important the individual years were when you no longer have as many ahead of you as have already passed.

Thats true, I had my 43rd birthday this year, so statistically I am past the 50 yard line. Although I fully expect to live well into my 100’s :laughing:

Yea, getting old! I thought it was in the 60’s but maybe wrong. Aside from that, it was a great experience!


God love the old days when you can get experiences like that and good meals on AC + cheap drinks + “friendly” stewies that served them! It used to be a fund time to travel, not like today! IMHO.

I think it was in the 70’s that I did this flight, not 60’s. You are right.

Re: Channel 9 - I remember many times where I would hear ATC say “United XXX climb and maintain FL34” and no response from the front end. I almost went to the door and knocked and told them to call ATC back and acknowledge the request. LOL.

Have a geat one!


You can still watch, including a tail cam view. The price of admission has gone up a bit.

Then again, you can just tilt your head slightly to look through the open cockpit door. :stuck_out_tongue:

You sure you got the right URL here?

Sorry I digressed onto the “Channel 9” topic" but an interesting one to say the least.

To stay on topic, I miss the flying experience for us ex pilots and the ones still into it and, flying commercial these days.

I like window seats and access to ATC on flights! When seated in middle seats or aisle and people pull down the shades it annoyes me as I cannot see the the great views from the AC. It amazes me that people cannot “relish” the views from FL37 over this great country and look at the clouds and cities below! Night flights were great!

I used to take an Atlas with me and, with a window seat, could track my view as we were in flight! Great!


United still has channel 9 on every mainline aircraft. Whether it’s on or not is up to the captain.

I’m guessing that the cockpit cameras went away for several reasons, firstly they probably weren’t used very often. Secondly, widebodies just aren’t as common as they used to be. Also, I don’t know where the camera was located, but I’m guessing it was near the FE position, which no longer exists. If you were to place a camera between the two pilots now, it would either have to hang from the ceiling or be mounted on the cockpit door above the jumpseat.

From my vague memory, the camera appeared to be mounted behind the Captains right shoulder. You could not see much of the FO.

I agree that it did not last long but enjoyed it while it was there and if the Cap elected to activate it. As for Channel 9, there have been many times I have had to virtually beg a FA to ask that it be turned on. Most of the times they had it activated and I just believe that not many people listen to it so it was more like “on demand”.

If I recall… the cockpit cam was on during a crash. Perhaps the DC-10 at ORD?

Photo of N110AA taken seconds before crash.

The crash of AA Flight 191 at ORD on May 25th 1979, the cockpit camera was on during this crash - and was the reason the cameras where removed shortly after the crash from all US aircraft.

N110AA crash report from .

According to what I have read the Camera MAY have been on! Nothing conclusive on that according to the records.

There are no video recordings anywhere and not in the FAA report.

Bottom line: When I fly I want to be part of the experience and not be a “vegitable” sitting in a seat! The more I can hear about the flight, real time, the happier I am. So be it, cameras are gone but, hopefully Channel 9 will hang around for a while.

Don - Castle Rock CO

In 1979 it was standard for the AA DC-10-10’s to have the camera’s on for take-off and landing.

During rotation N110AA lost its number one engine, with it was a loss of electrical power. The question at the time (1979) wasn’t whether the camera was on, it was if there was power for the passengers to view the crash.

It was thought that power was lost, and therefore the camera was considered to have lost power on rotation. (As did the CVR).

I somehow get the feeling that the experience of flying is beeing made more boring for passengers as time progresses. They took the cameras off because they possibly were turned on during a crash? What kind of reason is that? Today you cant visit the flight deck, there is no video of the aircraft (why not mount a camera on the "dashboard" if they dont want to film the pilots) and on many flights the map for the passengers is disabled. On the new 787 they even want to get rid of most of the turbulences.

I dont think all of those measures make flying more enjoyable - rather the opposite. Why wouldnt they build a glass door or something so you can see the flightdeck and talk to the pilots? That wouldn`t increase terror risk and make air travel more exciting for passengers and take away some of the routine for the crew.

Why is “camera” possessive? “camera’s” what?

Why is “camera” possessive? “camera’s” what?

It is plural smartass :smiling_imp: ! They didn`t take off one camera, but all cameras mounted on/in the different planes.

“On the new 787 they even want to get rid of most of the turbulences.” Eh?

Overall, I agree with you about flying commercial and, for those of us that are either pilots or love the experience, we are totally offset by the general PX that get on an aircraft and either sleep, work on their laptop, or watch a movie.

To me a window seat and Channel 9 are required! There is no other place where you can see views (night or day) and listen to the Cap/FO and ATC while enroute at the same time, especially when you have some “weather” to deal with. That is about as good as you get these days on Commercial Flights.

As for glass windows to the flight deck, I can see 12 people standing in the forward galley area looking thru the window and 20 more in the aisle waiting their turn ignoring the fasten seat belt light. Also, talking to the “pilot”, no way, they have enough to deal with up front and don’t need PX’s asking questions most of the time.

My 2 cents as an ex-pilot and frequent flyer. :smiley:

Don - Castle Rock CO (KDEN)

“On the new 787 they even want to get rid of most of the turbulences.” Eh?

Boeing is planing a system that will reduce a six foot Fall to a two foot one. I guess it`s a good saftey measure, but it makes flying in a plane feel like you are in a train(train = boring).

As for glass windows to the flight deck, I can see 12 people standing in the forward galley area looking thru the window and 20 more in the aisle waiting their turn ignoring the fasten seat belt light. Also, talking to the “pilot”, no way, they have enough to deal with up front and don’t need PX’s asking questions most of the time.

I guess youre right about the PXs. But they shouldnt be too busy at cruise altitude?( before 9/11 you could visit the flight deck and it wasnt a problem…)