This story is actually mine, and as I write this I am still in amazement at what just
I just flew between Cordoba, Argentina, and Buenos Aries, Argentina -- a 1:15 flight
on a nice sleek modern jet. Lacking something to read after the service, and reflecting
on my meeting I pulled out my Palm Pilot to scribble a few notes and read some downloaded
news, about 15 minutes later the lady across the aisle from me leaned over a said
something very fast in Spanish which I figured out to mean stop playing with your
palm pliot as it's not allowed and could cause the aircraft to crash. We had just
entered a holding pattern owing to fog and were circling.
In my best Spanish I told her not to worry, it's just a Palm, and besides there are
other people using a palm you can't see. I also told her that I had my sports-wristwatch
on which has battery and an LCD screen, and I can't turn that off. I also tried to
explain that I have some experience with airplanes, and have actually been on aircraft
where we have seen the effects of PCs etc. in the cockpit and she needn't worry. However
you can guess that in her state of mind I could have been the world's leading expert
in electromagenetic radiation, or the designer of the aircraft's navgation systems
and she wouldn't have believed me. She asked me what I would think if she took out
her cellular phone and tried calling people! (Just in case -- cell phones don't work
at 30,000 feet). And said that watches don't have batteries that interfere with aircraft,
but Palm Pilots do.
I stopped using the palm for a while. But it was still on, and she relaxed. About
5 minutes later I remembered one more note to make, so I scribbled it in. Too late.
She had called the flight attendant over and now I had the two of them telling me
not to use it, which by that time I was not doing. I pointed out that the Argentinean
law allows for computer use when not taking off and landing, and that was what the
Flight Attendant announced, and besides the law prohibits, CDs, TVs, computers, etc,
and this Palm Pilot was not a computer (ie no disk and VGA screen), but a solid state
device with a battery, just like a calculator or a wristwatch, and we were not landing
or taking off, and even if we were I could still use it if I wanted to. Then I was
told it was the Captain's discretion to prohibit anything he did not want onboard,
and he didn't want this on board, and we were landing. I pointed out that by looking
out the window we were not landing but circling and besides you're making that bit
up about the captain. Meanwhile I was not using the palm any longer. They continued
to argue that it was dangerous and could cause the aircraft to crash, and I apologized
that if this made her nervous that's just too bad, but you cannot stop me from using
it when I can see others using nintendo games, palms, calculators etc. Eventually,
they both calmed down, and the Captain came on the line announcing we've been cleared
for landing and could the flight attendants make the cabin ready for landing. To my
surprise the flight attendant said "please stow your tray-tables, put your seat back
in the upright position and turn off all approved electrical devices".
Amazing but true.