FAA puts man who recorded in-flight bird collision on double secret probation

Grant Cardone used his tablet to record a mid-flight bird-strike on a Delta flight from LFK to LAX. He disobeyed a crewmember who ordered him to stop recording. The FAA is very disappointed in Cardone, so they've put him on a special, nebulous list:

Your failure to comply with flight attendant instructions during a critical phase of flight and an aircraft emergency could have affected the safe outcome of the flight... We have given consideration to all of the facts. In lieu of legal enforcement action (a civil penalty), we are issuing this letter which will be made a matter of record for a period of two years, after which, the record will be expunged.

Anyone know what happens to fliers who are on FAA Double Secret Probation? Do they get an extra dose of radiation from the pornoscanner?

FAA Scolds Passenger For Using iPad To Shoot Video Of Bird Strike

(Image ganked from Classical Values)


  1. “Your failure to comply with flight attendant instructions during a critical phase of flight and an aircraft emergency could have affected the safe outcome of the flight…”

    Can anyone explain to me just how pointing a camera out of the window could affect the safety of the flight in any possible way?

    1. Or indeed what authority a sky waiter has over anything beyond pillows and coffee servings

      1. Really, you feel the need to make up your own derogatory term to prove your point?

      2. Ahem… aside from the entirely gratuitous denigration of professionals (seriously, do you feel better now?), any bus driver can throw you off the bus, as it were, if you think the rules don’t apply to you. And if necessary they do exactly that, as thousands of miles of Greyhound bus trips have taught me. The people who are responsible for everyone’s safety do indeed have the authority to enforce the rules.

        Your beef is with the rules, lobby to get the rules changed.

      3.   Any cocktail waitress can have you thrown out of a bar. 
        Considering elevation, aren’t you glad that sky waiters can’t do that? 

        1.  And if they tried to do so for taking a picture, I’d be just as incredulous.

      4. you won’t feel that way if the flight attendants help to save lives in an emergency – what they are trained for. How insulting to call them sky waiters.
        this guy with his ipad is just too full of himself and can’t follow a few simple rules like everyone else. Are we all going to start deciding which airline rules we want to follow? well that would be total chaos!

      1.  Just as Alec Baldwin was kicked off a flight for recording birds….oh wait, that was for playing a game on his device.   Do you really think the flight attendant cared whether he was recording or playing or what-not?  Using your devices during landing or take-off has been frowned upon for some time.  And if you recall the Alex Baldwin incident, it certainly can end in unwanted results.

    2. It’s much more about chain of command on a flight.  When a flight attendant tells you to do something you do it because you are told to do it, you don’t get to make judgments on whether it is actually ok or not. I’ll just add a caveat that that only really applies when the plane is in motion

      This applies to all planes everywhere.  When the three star general gets on a plane he has to go where the loadmaster tells him to.  

      If you can’t deal with that kind of restriction to your freedom I don’t want to be on a plane with you.  There’s a time and a place for free thinking anarchist democracy, and going at 500mph thousands of feet up in the air is not it.

      1. Except that buying a plane ticket doesn’t mean you enlisted in a military, and the “chain of command” you describe is not necessary in this situation and its imposition is entirely arbitrary. You can argue that there is no room for deviation or context (does this happen to everyone who records something with their pad in flight?), but that would be a value judgement and merely your opinion. It isn’t law.

        1. I seem to remember there are rules against taking any pictures on flights (I couldn’t say if they are law or not though, probably a grey area of contract law)

          But obeying flight attendant instructions would be a condition of service, not doing so would leave the FAA well within their rights to ban you from flying.  As is, they sent a sternly worded letter. Seems pretty reasonable to me.

          When a plane is in flight you do what you’re told, simple as that.

          1. I will believe in these “rules against taking any pictures on flights” of which you speak when you provide a citation. Until then, no.

            Given your “do what you’re told, simple as that” sign-off, I’m not holding my breath, though.

      2.  I agree that, in many, or even most cases, you SHOULD do what the flight attendants tell you. Flight attendants are not, in fact, merely ‘sky waiters’, and haven’t been since the 70’s. They are, essentially, emergency responders that, 99% of the time, have no emergency to respond to, so they might as well get you a beer and some rubbery chicken. But when something DOES happen (think the flight that went down in the Hudson), their job is critical to keeping passengers safe. 

        It would help, however, if the entire experience of flying had not been transformed into a Gilliam-esque nightmare. From the ridiculous security checks to the multiple unannounced fees to the every shrinking seat areas, by the time people are on a plane, even the most mellow and laid back people are sick and tired of arbitrary instructions, pointless commands, and what appear to be rules which limit your personal actions for no apparent reason.

        Likely, the reason the attendant told Mr. Cardone to stop filming was that, in that sort of situation, turbulence, jolts, or other sudden motions would be pretty likely, and you really don’t want an iPad being flung (flinged?) through the cabin while the plane is experiencing a sudden unexpected descent.

        The idea of ‘chain of command’ and obeying rules ‘because they are the rules’ is familiar and necessary in a military context, and doubtless, people with that experience recognize it. But 99% of the people in this country have no such experience, and view a plane as merely a big bus in the sky.

        If the FAA and the airlines seemed to be more competent, and gave people the sense that all the trouble they went through was actually useful and necessary, people wouldn’t be so hung up on questioning everything.

        1. “Likely, the reason the attendant told Mr. Cardone to stop filming was that, in that sort of situation, turbulence, jolts, or other sudden motions would be pretty likely, and you really don’t want an iPad being flung (flinged?) through the cabin while the plane is experiencing a sudden unexpected descent.”

          That has absolutely nothing to do with the request.

      3. Agreed.

        Especially when the plane happens to make an emergency landing, which Cory conveniently does not mention… This is certainly the time when distracting the crew from its duty through childish behavior should be punished.

        I cannot see what the harm is for the FAA to issue such a letter…

    3.  Because it would become a projectile in the event of a crash.   How would you like to been on Capt Sully’s plane as it did a water landing and having 200 phones and tablets flying through the cabin?  There would certainly have been many more injuries and possible deaths.

      1. Because it would become a projectile in the event of a crash.

        Unlike the thousands of other unsecured items in the compartment which would remain completely stationary.

        1. I remember the first equipment/uniform issue I was given, on my very first flight attendant job. Slightly odd suit with flame-resistant jacket, wheelie bag, wing pin, clip on tie, case of crazy glue.

          1. please, please tell us what the crazy glue was for. Did they expect you to potentially glue parts of the plane back on with it?

        2. I’d rather get hit in the head with a paperback book or a plastic tray than two pounds worth of freakin’ metal and glass. But maybe that’s just me…

          1. You may wish to rethink that.  I tend to read Russian classics on flights.  There’s nary a single one that’s less than a thousand pages.  If that book (assuming paperback, may not be, could be a new Neal Stephenson hardback – also around 1,000 pages), goes airborne, it may make your head bleed upon impact (or worse).  Thus, the demand to stow electronics, but not books, is, at best, a ridiculous oversight.  It is, at worst, arbitrary.

      2. If an iPad could have become a projectile in a crash caused by birds hitting the engine, then we have much more to worry about than an iPad projectile.

        1. Not that the flying potential of iPads had anything to do with the dispute at hand but: this was an emergency landing. I’m all for assuming that an emergency landing is, well, an emergency and can be potentially dangerous. I’m not entirely sure what anyone gains by fighting with the crew in a situation like this.

      3. “Because it would become a projectile in the event of a crash.”


    4. Can anyone explain to me just how pointing a camera out of the window could affect the safety of the flight in any possible way?

      I can think of one scenario.

    5. Let’s say they had no such rules. Then roughly 200 people would have various electronic devices out on such a flight. Of those 50 wouldn’t be in airplane mode since people are lazy and would, of course, say “what’s the harm?.”
      So now you’ve got let’s say 200+ various devices inside the plane and many of them that are actively broadcasting.

      That’s where the interference could come from. Plus a lot of distraction if an emergency does happen.

      So it’s like how you stealing a pebble from a 4000 year old temple doesn’t hurt anything but 5 million people like you a year means no temple within a decade. So no one is allowed to steal pebbles because no one is special.

      1. “So now you’ve got let’s say 200+ various devices inside the plane and many of them that are actively broadcasting. That’s where the interference could come from.”

        You already do. And it doesn’t.

      2. There is no harm because (1) consumer electronic devices don’t operate on anywhere near the same frequencies as commercial airliners, and (2) an airplane electronics are insulated against foreign frequencies. It doesn’t matter if you have 5 cell phones, 50, or 5000, you are not taking down a $50 million dollar plane.

        I’m not even going to discuss how impertinent your analogy is beyond pointing out that it is just not analogous to this situation.

      3. You are exactly right. Everyone thinks they can take the pebble, and if you had a million years you would never convince these people that they can’t have the pebble.

    6.  It’s a well known fact in the aviation industry that pointing camera lenses at turbine engines can cause them to immediately seize up and break away from the wing.

      Why, the entire wing could have dropped off the aircraft!

      /Crazy talk happens

  2. We’ve been notified to take “special care” of Mr. Cardone the next time he comes through security. And, like the bird strike, everything will be captured on video and put on YouTube. 

  3. Nothing at all will happen to him, but the 30 other people with the same name will probably become very good friends with a glove wearing TSA agent in the near future.

  4. I don’t think anything negative happens as a result of this letter.  I knew someone who got one as a result of some airline-related hijinks of a college marching(ish) band, and I believe they had no future trouble flying.  (legend holds that the band as a whole was banned from Delta Airlines at some point for a different incident, but that was before 9/11; the warning letter I’m aware of was in the post-9/11 era)

  5. At what point does the NTSB tell the FAA to go take a flying leap? Not shooting video of flight errors, faulty engineering, and big, bird-roasting jet engines seems like a very bad idea. The more information and documentation, for the airlines, plane manufacturers, and the FAA, the better. Some flash memory buried in a wreckage might prevent further catastrophes.

    1. The NTSB doesn’t because the NTSB knows that it’s not always the crash that kills people, it’s the things that happen during and after that do. The NTSB also know that they have a whole big data recorder that can provide them much more useful information about the aircraft’s systems and a voice recorder which can tell them about the pilots’ actions, so the NTSB says, “no, put the projectiles away, we don’t need your best cellphone footage.”

  6. It’s just yet another example of emotion-driven policy.  It’s everywhere.  We may think we are so high and mighty and 400 years past the 1600’s, but we are just as brutal, capricious and fucktarded as our ancestors.  If we don’t kill ourselves, it’ll be another good 1000 years before we’re civilized.

    1. I’d like to think the net significantly accelerates memetic/cultural evolution.

      At this stage it hasn’t gone far beyond a bunch of support networks for weirdos in that context, and certainly the balkanisation of the web will be a brake on the ubiquity of this evolution, but I think we’ve already begun to see some of its vast potential.

      I don’t need to employ an unlikely amount of optimism to imagine a couple of centuries should do it.

      As long as the net isn’t transformed into little more than a means of control by our corporatist, fascist, rat bastard governments.

  7. At first glance I assumed, as many of the commenters seem to, that the FAA was punishing someone for recording something.  In fact if you read the original article, he’s on probation simply for having his iPad on at a time when all the passengers were instructed to have electronic devices off, as they are during takeoffs, landings, and (this case) emergencies.  Whether that rule makes any sense is another issue, but the situation seems far more mundane than the title implies.

  8. Isnt that like deleting a comment on a privately owned blog?
    Nobody forces you to sit on a plane if you dont want to comply to the rules.

    I am flying a lot inside China and as much as I like the people there, when I am on a trip from Mainland to Hong Kong or vice versa especially on weekends, I feel deep sympathy for the poor flight attendants who have to keep up with the most uncivilized behaviour imaginable.
    Many people dont follow any instructions whatsoever during the flight and thus endanger themselves and those around them. I was yelling at a couple once sitting next to me who during the entire flight after numerous requests of the flight attendants didnt feel the need to fasten the seatbelt of their little emperor son and let him run around freely.
    At that point i couldnt care less if the kids breaks its neck during a severe turbulence. I only cared that his flying body could hurt me.

    So of course sometimes instructions may appear arbitrary but take a flight inside China and you will choose this solution over anarchy.

    1. Isnt that like deleting a comment on a privately owned blog?

      I’m going to have to go on ahead and say “no” on that one.

      Nobody forces you to sit on a plane if you dont want to comply to the rules.

      Because the ability to comment on a blog is exactly like the ability to take transportation for any number of reasons such as business or family matters.

      1. I think you’re missing the point, and I think the analogy is false, but it is trying to make a valid point which is that there are places and times where one can say and do as they please, and others where one must obey a set of rules and regulations. As the top comment mentions, if people have a beef with the rule (no electronics), then lobby to change the rule, don’t take it out on the folks tasked with enforcing it, especially since we’re talking about first world comforts here, not civil unrest.

      2. Yeah a weak analogy after all, it’s too early in the morning here.
        Also i want to make a clear distinction between ‘TSA on the ground terror’ and ‘in a plane at 500mph rules’. Those two shouldnt be mixed up.

  9. Ahoy Cory… one of your lines got me worried…
    “Do they get an extra dose of radiation from the pornoscanner?”
    Actually with the recent terror scare of implanted bombs, the talking heads on TV reported they were considering turning the radiation levels up to look for them.
    I can see for the rest of the world how self sterilization for ‘Merika might look like a a good idea, but your forgetting all of the people who don’t fly who think everyone else is a terrorist and we should launch the missiles first.

  10. “Anyone know what happens to fliers who are on FAA Double Secret Probation?”

    You have to fly Delta.

  11. The main, real reason for the rule about turning electronic devices off during takeoff and touchdown is that passengers need to be prepared and not distracted if there is an emergency.  The secondary reason is that hard objects not properly stowed can actually become projectiles that injure people.

     99.999% of the time, this is a silly and unnecessary rule, but .001% of the time, it is crucial and seconds matter.  They have you open the window shades during takeoff and touchdown for the same reason, so you have situational awareness.  

    The blanket rule allows the flight attendants to avoid having to make subjective judgments and deal with obnoxious people like many commenters in this thread who otherwise would insist on watching a movie with headphones on during takeoff, talk on the phone during landing, etc.  Imagine if you were in the window seat, and the two seats next to you were occupied by people wearing headphones totally engrossed in movies or video games, and that bird strike was actually a serious event that caused the pilot to abort takeoff and somehow stop the plane in a way that required a rapid evacuation.  Would you want this evacuation delayed by peoples’ delayed reactions, putting away their computers, not realizing anything was amiss, etc?

    Don’t believe this ever happens?  Browse airsafe.com and check out the incidents of planes overshooting runways and ending up in the water, etc.I totally agree with all the anger directed at the TSA, but once you’re on a flight there are legitimate rules that are there for the legitimate reason of keeping you as safe as possible in an environment which, again, is placid and uneventful 99.999% of the time and .001% of the time suddenly and without warning transforms into a living nightmare where two seconds are the difference between surviving and being burned alive trapped in the fuselage.  Think about the fact that all airplanes fly around with life vests on board.  Or are engineered so that a bird strike that takes out half the engines won’t bring down the plane.  You could argue that this represents an unwarranted level of caution, but it is consistent with the rule about not playing angry birds during departure.

  12. Simply for the sake of it, since it’s probably going to go unnoticed – I feel I should mention that disobeying the lawful instructions of cabin crew IS a felony. And I don’t mean it’s a wee little thing they just wag their finger at, it’s an actual, prosecutable, big boy federal offense.

    Yeah, the FAA are pissed, what the hell do you expect? He’s essentially committed a felony, and a federal offense at that, on board an aircraft in US airspace. Getting all het up about that sort of thing does kinda fall within their job description.

    I mean, I respect what you’re trying to do here, but seriously, this is kinda taking the piss.

    1. Good try with your fancy facts and all but if you wanna triple your “Like”s you’ll have to throw in an insult against the people who just did their job to keep everyone safe in an emergency situation. You have much to learn…

      1.  Now that, I’ll dispute. In that case, there was no emergency situation, simply minor bird-strike, and the captain chose to land at JFK as a precaution. There was no serious incident, and the captain acted as he felt was best to avoid an emergency situation, did his job, in other words.

        However, that doesn’t change the fact that he was directly instructed to put his ipad away, and he refused to do so, which is indeed breaking the law.

        Frankly, I think the situation is being handled appropriately – while he did break the law, nobody was harmed, so a scolding from the FAA is probably as bad as it should get. He’s not likely to be put on any meaningful list for it, he’s not going to have any trouble caused by it, but he still needs to be made aware that what he did just isn’t acceptable, as has occurred.

        1. Nah, it _was_ an emergency landing of which the very dude who filmed it said, and I quote:  “[The] plane shook, I thought we were coming down.”

          Serious enough to do what the people in charge of your safety tell you to do.

          1.  Well, professionally, I think you should ALWAYS do what the people in charge of your safety tell you to do, but I may be a wee bit biased.

            That said, you are correct, I did make a mistake there. Upon further investigation, I found more detail about the situation. The engine was shut down due to malfunction, and off the top of my head, I know what the crew were doing, preparing for an emergency landing, which involved circulating and making sure the cabin was prepared – which is when this bloke would have been told to turn his iPad off, which also tidily explains why the FAA are cracking the shits about Endangering the safety of the flight – if the plane didn’t land successfully, then they would have to evacuate, and having some dude trying to film everything with his ipad would slow that process down, thus possibly endangering the other passengers and the crew.

            So, Mea Culpa, my apologies. I should have investigated further before opening my fat yap.

            As for the cabin filling with smoke, though, I call that hyperbole. I doubt that was really the case, I’d say it’s more likely the cabin smelled somewhat of smoke, but wasn’t filling with smoke by any means.

  13. Oy. this reads more like the officials saying what isa the least we can do to get this airline off our backs about his stupid video thing. 

  14. After reading the article after the jump I have to agree with the crewmembers here. He was not recording during a normal flight but during an emergency landing.  As noted in other comments as well, tablets can become projectiles in during landing (everything which is loose can, therefore you have closed baggage compartments). 

    in this thread a lost of people then complain that people should put away their books, which I think happens since you are not comfortable reading anymore in an emergency. And still an IPad is potentially more dangerous than a book or camera. Think about it, books fly open, increasing air resistance and such, decreasing their velocity. On impact the book is flexible and can dissipate the energy by closing. Cameras are often secured to a person by w wrist band oid. An Ipad on the other hand is an unsecured flat metal plate. In a high speed collision it will win of your skull. 

  15. I think it’s good to record take-offs and landings.  It’s the two phases of flight in which a disaster is likely to occur.  it could be crucial to get an inside perspective, the sights, the sounds, in case something happens.  Maybe a plane overruns the runway and a passenger records it.  It could be crucial to see what was happening.  Too fast, spoilers not deployed, no thrust reverse?  This exact thing was recorded in Jackson Hole on a 757 once, and if I recall it was a result of being too high, too fast, and a wet runway.  Was that person punished for recording the landing?

  16. it might not be a law but private organisations have the right to ban you from their premises if they feel you are endangering your own or other peoples lives. getting on a plane you are accepting the terms and conditions of carriage which includes doing what the FAA and flight attendants tell you when safety is their concern, and little else. the iPad could quite easily I imagine have been buried in that guys face in the event of sudden violent manoeuvres or it could have hit someone else. sure there are a lot of unsecured items but filming something means your distracted and don’t have the firmest grip on what ever it is your holding.

  17. Its time we got rid of these moronic limitations on use of electronic devices in flight. Most of the people on the plane will have forgotten to switch off their phones which will all be randomly blasting out at maximum power looking for a cell tower that isnt there. As for the flight attendants they vary between airlines, most are polite and are obeyed without fuss, some like BA staff are rude and unpleasant and probably cause unnecessary confrontations.

    1. That’s not the issue. The issue is that he disobeyed the lawful instructions of a member of the cabin crew. That’s not just breaking a silly rule, that’s a federal felony.

  18. I think everyone here is completely missing the point:

    1.) The plane was struck by a BIRD.
    2.) Cardone was aiming a tablet at the location of the bird strike.

    I’d have to wait for the results of the forensic analysis before drawing any definite conclusions here, but it’s fairly obvious that Cardone is culpable for terrorist intent.

    Would someone check the cargo manifest for livestock, please?

    1.  Birds ON a plane aren’t a risk. In fact they often let penguins waddle around to everyone’s delight.

    1. Top YouTube comment:

      I agree with u.. Grant Cardone must’ve been training the flock of birds with Stephen Hawking for many many years up until now.. He then MUST have connected with the birds so strongly that he could telepathically order the flock to fly into the engine while he was filming. That sick bastard!!

  19. Doesn’t seem like it’s all that secret of a probation. The letter itself will be kept on file for two years and then expunged. Seems reasonable to me to keep a record of communications.

    This is a matter of some anal-retentive official feeling like he REALLY REALLY needs to do his job and remind a now public figure of the obvious fact he wasn’t following FAA rules.

    1.  Ah, It wasn’t just a case of “Not following FAA rules”, it’s a case of committing a federal offense, a felony in fact, disobeying the lawful instructions of the cabin crew. They’re essentially letting him off with a slap on the wrist rather than actually punishing him, because in this instance, nobody was harmed, but he still needs to be made aware that what he did isn’t acceptable.

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