October 13, 2007

Please familiarize yourself with the safety features of this aircraft

Unretouched photo detail of a US Airways Boeing 757 passenger safety guide:

Boeing 757 safety guide detail

  • If you see grey in the window, there is smoke outside. Do not open the door.
  • If you see red in the window, there is fire outside. Do not open the door.
  • If you see yellow in the window, the Lights of Zetar are outside. Do not open the door.
  • If you see blue in the window, there is water outside. Do not open the door.

Addendum: Wait a minute…these illustrations are a sequence. This is a story. He’s an alchemist! You can tell by the arcane symbol on his wand and his triumphant fist-pump when summoning each of the four elements.

  1. Air: The plane is in the clouds. This does not require alchemical magick, of course, and that’s probably why this guy booked a flight in the first place—as a starting point.
  2. Fire: The plane is engulfed in flames. The sudden chaos erupting inside the cabin gives the alchemist a few unobserved moments to execute his next step, the real objective of this exercise:
  3. Earth: The alchemist has conjured gold! Unfortunately, the door won’t open, because the plane is embedded in rock. But you know he’ll be bragging about this to his buddies.
  4. Water: The plane is floating in the ocean. No telling what kind of shape the passengers and crew are in by now, but at least they’re equipped for this.

You’d think the TSA would just stop these people.


  1. Or: If you see yellow in the window, there’s gold in them thar hills!

  2. And the poor man with the belly button on the outside of his shirt is crying because he’s not allowed to open the door to get to the gold?

  3. I am confused about the sequence. I would think that we would, instead, see the traditional “fire-water-air-earth” represented in the Tetragrammaton, tarot, etc.

    I’m also perplexed by his wand. Is that symbol a modification of the traditional caduceus serpents, perhaps representing a dual-oroborous?

    I’ll be taking any further communications from the US Airways Alchemy Department with a grain of salt, thankyouverymuch.

  4. You have to admit, the “Lights of Zetar” description fits. It was the second interpretation that occurred to me while I was reading the safety guide on the plane. (The first was “gold foil.”) Then I thought maybe it meant “broken glass” or somesuch, but…yellow? That can’t be it. I can’t think of anything yellow that would merit such special attention before opening an airplane door. Pollen, maybe—but I’ve never seen jagged, hand-sized clumps of it flying through the air. If you see yellow in the window, there are abstract shapes outside. Do not open the door.

    A more specific interpretation of panel 2 might be The airplane is in Hell, but I wasn’t sure the alchemist would bother with that kind of hassle. Necromancer, sure, but this guy is in a longsleeve and chinos, or maybe that’s a track suit…HEY, is that Steve Austin?! If you are the Six Million Dollar Man, check the window with your bionic eye and smash the door with your bionic arm. Do not use the handle. You know, I’ll bet yellow is the code for Oscar Goldman is in trouble.

    Actually, note the sightline: The alchemist is gazing through the window with his third eye.

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