Would you want the pilot flying the plane you’re on to stick a gadget on their head that literally obstructs their field of vision? It sounds like a dumb question, but since the Apple Vision Pro headset came out last week, we’ve learned there is no limit to the things people will do for a couple of clicks.
Pilot Chris Clarke took clickbait to new heights on Tuesday when he posted a 21-second video of himself on X, formerly known as Twitter, appearing to fly a plane while wearing Apple’s new face computer. In the video, Clarke appears to have a co-pilot, who was filming him and laughing, next to him.
“The apple vision pro has made my job exponentially more productive,” Clarke said in the caption of his post.
The video sparked outrage on the platform, with many people calling for Clarke’s license to be revoked. At the time of publication, the video had been viewed nearly six million times.
On Wednesday morning, Clarke claimed that he had not been flying the plane in the video and had just been a passenger. While that may be true, it still potentially means that the real pilot was recording a video instead of focusing on the flight. The video also shows Clarke with his hand on the yoke, which led many to believe he was actually the pilot in the situation. Clarke deleted the video on Wednesday morning.
Gizmodo reached out to Clarke—who formerly worked as a writer for our sister site, Jalopnik, in 2015—for comment early on Wednesday but did not immediately receive a response.
Even if the video was just clickbait, the idea of a pilot essentially putting a blindfold over their eyes is alarming. In a comment on X, Clarke compared the experience to having “a HUD [head-up display] strapped to your face.” A HUD is a transparent screen in the cockpit directly in front of the pilot’s line of vision that displays important flight instrument data, such as the airspeed, altitude of the plane, and the horizon line to the flight path vector.
The experience is not the same. While the Apple Vision Pro appears to let users see directly through the screen, what they see is actually a live video feed of what the cameras on the device are capturing. Apple makes quality products, but its devices are not immune to lag or potential malfunctions—a particularly horrifying possibility when the person wearing the Apple Vision Pro is operating a huge hunk of metal in the sky.
It’s also highly unlikely that the Federal Aviation Administration, the agency that regulates civil aviation in the U.S., would approve of pilots intentionally obstructing their view for a video. The agency recommends pilots learn how to manage distractions, which “can set a deadly chain of events in motion” when not managed properly.
We reached out to the FAA about Clarke’s video outside of normal business hours on Wednesday morning and will update this post if we hear back.
Clarke’s video is the latest in an alarming trend of people using the Apple Vision Pro in situations where it’s not meant to be used. Over the weekend, multiple Tesla owners went viral for wearing the Vision Pro while appearing to use the car’s driver assistance features. These features do not enable the car to drive itself and require the driver to keep their hands on the wheel at all times.
On Monday, a 21-year-old whose video of him driving while wearing the headset admitted to Gizmodo that the scene was just a “skit” he had made for laughs.
Apple specifically warns users against using the Vision Pro while operating a moving vehicle “or in any other situations requiring attention to safety” in its user guide. It does offer a “Travel Mode” on the device for passengers who want to use the Vision Pro on their flights.