Today, I was reminded of an old flash animation called Nose Pilot. I’m not sure why; perhaps the hubub over the release of the iPad 2, and Apple’s lack of Flash support, got the gears going. But in any case, I discovered this crazy little animation years ago, and I mean years literally. I think that I discovered Nose Pilot somewhere back around 2001, when the internet was a very different place. I was in my first year of high school, just getting interested in computers and computing; Flash, at that time still owned by Macromedia, was just beginning to become popular as a way of making web sites more interactive and interesting; and some of my friends were just graduating from making silly little animations with Powerpoint to making silly little animations in Flash. Against all this backdrop, my newfound access to unparalleled information was just beginning to make me realize how crazy the world really was, outside of my safe little upper-middle class suburban bubble. As a straight-laced kid, I didn’t have drugs to help me make sense of it all, like the Flower Children of the ’60’s and ’70’s; instead, my drug was the internet. And for a while, I was addicted to Nose Pilot.
To quote another internet commenter, who himself paraphrased Morpheus from the Matrix, another staple of my high school experience: “Unfortunately, no one can be told what Nose Pilot is. You have to see it for yourself.” But looking back, there’s something pure and wholesome about Nose Pilot. Simple though it is, it has an Amish hand-made polish about it; it is all original, even the music. It took hundreds of hours to piece together all that animation back in the dark ages of Flash. It feels rare to find such a labor of love still thriving in the derivative wild of today’s hashtag-infested, linking-is-the-new-original internet 2.0.
To truly experience Nose Pilot, you can’t watch it just once. You have to watch it, let it sink in, then re-watch it later. Then drink until your mind is set back to the level of a 15 year old, and watch it again. Then pass out and dream. Dream the halcyon dreams of the past, memories from your youth tinted with the perfection of an imperfect memory. Only then can you understand Nose Pilot.