BBtv: Xeni kicks the tech tires on Virgin America.

(Update: By total coincidental timing, the VA executive featured in this episode, Charles Ogilvie, announced today he's moving on from VA to do something that sounds equally cool with tech and entertainment. Details at the bottom of the post.)

[Xeni Jardin]: Last week, the Boing Boing tv crew was in San Francisco shooting a few upcoming episodes, and our friends at Virgin America (BBtv is shown on the in-flight entertainment system) invited us to come wander around behind security, and peek at the nuts and bolts that are the tech underpinnings of this airline.

They're about to launch in-flight wireless internet soon, and they're holding a competition for open source games, the winners of which will be available for people to play in-flight (entries are still being accepted).

Virgin America's head of in-flight entertainment, Charles Ogilvie, brought us on board a plane that was empty and at rest between flights. We poked around with the computers and displays (all Linux!) and we tried to IM our friends using the pilot's controls in the cockpit. This did not work so well.

My favorite part of this shoot: driving a VA pickup truck around between the resting airplanes, and peeking into the giant abyss where your bags are shuffled around on giant conveyor belt systems, hopefully towards your plane and final destination.

Link to Boing Boing tv post with discussion, downloadable video, and instructions on subscribing to the BBtv video podcast.

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(Disclaimers: BBtv is an in-flight entertainment partner with Virgin, but BBtv doesn't receive compensation for this. VA once asked Boing Boing to name a plane, and we did, but we weren't paid for this, either. VA has previously been a paid sponsor on Boing Boing the blog. This episode isn't an ad, and we weren't paid to produce it. All of us at BBtv sincerely thought this stuff was cool, and that Charles Ogilvie is a cool guy with interesting ideas, and we had a blast goofing around where the TSA folks generally do not permit one to goof. )

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Update, 07-03-08: BBtv learned today that Charles Ogilvie is moving on from Virgin America. We're bummed we won't be working with him there anymore! The timing of this episode and his move are totally coincidental, we weren't aware. Here's the note from VA CEO David Cush, after the jump, and congrats on your next adventures, Charles!

It is with mixed emotions that I announce that Charles Ogilvie is leaving his position as Director of In-flight Entertainment and Partnerships at Virgin America. Charles will be pursuing a unique opportunity– to lead Panasonic's in-flight entertainment and new airborne technology platforms in China. Charles will be based in Shanghai and will report directly to their CEO.

Charles started with Virgin America four years ago and was one of a small group of talented, innovative and passionate individuals who were driven to create a different kind of airline – one that people would actually like, and maybe even love. Charles was the creative and operational force behind the development of the Red in-flight entertainment system, working tirelessly to oversee its design and build out the system's impressive content partnerships with dozens of movie studios, television networks, record labels, web sites, and other entertainment partners. The result is a system that is the most advanced in-fight entertainment system in the U.S. skies, with a diversity and breadth of programming, films, games and other offerings that dwarf that of any other domestic airline. That Charles was chosen by Panasonic for this important position is not only a reflection of his talent but also a nod to the leadership position that Virgin America has taken in in-flight entertainment.

Please join me in thanking Charles for his contributions to this company and congratulating him on his next chapter as Executive Director of China at Panasonic.