It’s a camera shutter. It’s not a detonator.

Last week, an American Airlines flight from Indianapolis to New York was forced to make an emergency landing due to what had initially been described as an in-flight passenger situation.


Well, it turns out that the “in-flight passenger situation,” according to the New York Daily News, was because a passenger saw another passenger adjusting a camera, and thought the camera was a bomb.

No, seriously.

The camera guy was taken in by police and detained for several hours, before being released without further incident.

According to the article, a woman on the flight noticed that another passenger was scrolling through online videos and pictures of what she thought looked suspicious, and then saw the man pull out an object that looked like the images in the computer videos he previously viewed. The woman immediately screamed that the man had a bomb, he was looking through bomb-making materials, and the plane had to make an emergency landing.

The “bomb-making materials” were websites of vintage antique cameras, and the guy had just pulled out one of his personal antique cameras to adjust something on it. While he was winding the camera, she thought that he was engaging a detonator of some sort.

The innocent passenger was held in custody for several hours, while his checked luggage – which included several vintage cameras – was screened. He was later released without arrest.

Look, I get it. We exist in a hyper-sensitive world where the mantra of “If you see something, say something” is prevalent. And yes, better to be safe than to be sorry. But come on, lady. It’s a camera. It isn’t a round black sphere with a white fuse on top.

Then again, I personally own a couple of oddly-shaped cameras. My Krasnogorsk FT-2 camera “Raskolnikov” is brick-shaped, and the lens is tucked inside the chassis. And the Rolleiflex is also brick-shaped, with two lenses in front due to it being a TTL camera.

But now I’m kinda chilled about all this. I’m more than willing to bring my camera gear in my carry-on luggage, just because I don’t want it going walkies by some sticky-fingered baggage handler. Or that it accidentally gets on the wrong flight, with myself flying to Oakland and my camera gear landing in Auckland.

But yeah, I’ve got a couple of major trips planed in the next few years.

Screw it. I’m driving. I don’t care. Me, the car and the open road. No having to share a 7-hour flight with someone blessed with halitosis and the gift of gab. No having to subside on a teensy pack of peanuts for the entire flight, or to get stuck with some movie that’s heavily edited for the flight, and the final climactic moments on the film are shut off due to us landing early.

Nope. Gas tank full of fuel, and breakfast, lunch and dinner at whatever Waffle Houses I pass along the way.

Trust me, I’ve had bad flying experiences before. Don’t think I haven’t forgotten what you did to me ten years ago, Southwest Airlines.

And before someone else suggests I take an Amtrak or a Greyhound somewhere, to them I say, “Yeah, I can do that if I’m going to New York City or some place like that. But if I want to go somewhere where I don’t need to subsequently rent a vehicle, or be at the mercy of a train or bus schedule, then it’s me and the car.”

And if I’m driving, I can take every camera I own. There’s plenty of trunk space in my Chevrolet.

No Karens need to ride shotgun for these trips. Just sayin’ is all.