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Steven Frischling
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Steven Frischling, aka: Fish, is globe hopping professional photographer, airline emerging media consultant working with large global airlines and founder of The Travel Strategist. Fish has racked up more than 1,000,000 miles since he started to track his mileage in 2005.

Fish's travel tends to be less than leisurely, including flying from New York to Basrah, Iraq, for six hours; Hong Kong for eight hours, Kuwait City for two hours and traveling around the world in 3.5 days to shoot a series of photo assignments in 4 cities and 4 countries on 3 separate continents.

Fish grew up at the end of New York's JFK International Airport's Runway 4R/22L, which probably explains his enjoyment of watching planes, fly overhead. When not shooting photos or traveling Fish designs camera bags, hones is expertise on airline security and spends his time at home cheering for the Red Sox with his 3 kids 102 yards from the ocean.

Alaska Airlines’ Internal Note On An External Wing

Last Saturday, the 28th of July 2012,  as Alaska AirlinesBoeing 737-790 N611AS flew along passengers noticed some writing in black magic marker on the aircraft’s starboard side, with an arrow pointing to a cut out in the flap.


While the crescent shaped cut out on the 737’s outboard flap has clearly been machine cut and smoothed, an arrow pointing to the cut out is accompanied by “We Know About This” in large black marker.   Understandably, passengers may be alarmed by seeing any damage on their aircraft, no matter how minor, and they likely may not have noticed it had the cut out not been marked.


To minimize the viral nature of the photo depicting the note on the wing, Alaska Airlines tweeted The way this was communicated on the plane wasn’t appropriate. Our apologies for any alarm it may have caused,however the message on the wing clearly was not for passengers.


Airlines often leave notes in magic marker, or on tape, or place tape over areas that need mechanical attention (there is specific tapes approved for internal use and external use). These notes and tape-overs aren’t for passengers, but rather for ground crews and mechanics. If you walk around enough planes you’ll find random things written in random places … not on all planes … but you’ll spot these telltale signs of a non-functioning galley outlet, a sticky lavatory door lock, and a broken seat tray table.


Granted, Alaska Airlines ground staff could have left their note on the underside of the flap … but if nothing else, it is sure was polite of the ground staff to let the passengers know that they were aware of the cut out in the flap … while also saving the ground staff at each station from documenting the cut in the flap, which is apparently an approved deferred mechanical repair.


Below is a photo, from Reddit, of what passengers on board Alaska Airlines’ aircraft N611AS saw as they looked out their window.


Happy Flying!




6 Responses

  1. I suppose the Post-It notes kept blowing off.

  2. […] when seen on board an aircraft.  This reader mail was spawned by yesterday’s blog post, Alaska Airlines’ Internal Note On An External Wing, and comes from Andrea J., in Manitoba, […]

  3. […] incident July 28 drew comments on Twitter and other social media websites.  The blog Flying with Fish first posted about an unintentional message that was written on an Alaska Airlines wing and the […]

  4. […] incident July 28 drew comments on Twitter and other social media websites.  The blog Flying with Fish posted about the unintentional message that was written on an Alaska Airlines wing and the photo, […]

  5. I have to wonder what I would do if I saw that. I think I would have asked a crew member something to the effect of “what’s that about?” and let it be after that.

    Would it have been better if it were on the underside? I doubt it. The cut would still be there, and without a message indicating that it’s a known condition/issue, it may be more of a concern.

    @Matt: :)

  6. As an aircraft mechanic, I think the flap should have been repaired back to its original design specifications. If you are going to all the trouble and time to machine cut a portion out why not fix it to original specifications Although its an approved deferral method – it still looks tacky – a flight control with a hunk removed and a hand written note ………really???

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