Cockpit photo exposes North Korean pilot using a ridiculous lace-trimmed ejection seat headrest cover

Aug 05 2015 - 24 Comments

Is this a standard cockpit adornment?

Screenshots from a video aired by the North Korean state television were posted yesterday by Alert5 military aviation site.

While cockpit footage from inside a North Korean Su-25 jet is quite rare, what is even more interesting is the weird (at least by Western standards) adornment exposed by the video.

Indeed, as noticed by our friend Tim Robison, Editor in Chief of AEROSPACE, the magazine of the Royal Aeronautical Society, there is some lace-trimmed cover on the ejection seat headrest.

Whether this is a standard decoration or a pilot customization is still open to debate; for sure it doesn’t seem to be made of fire-resistant material as one should expect from almost everything inside the cockpit.

Image credit: Alert5


  • CharleyA

    Doesn’t look like his mask fits very well, especially when turning his head.

  • cencio4

    It just shows that the author considers hilarious and weird a lace-trimmed cover that you can’t find anywhere else in the world (at least to my knowledge).
    Dealing with the inflammable flags, I concur these can be dangerous, still they are not ridiculous to me.
    Furthermore, is far more dangerous a cushion on the ejection seat, that will follow the pilot when ejected, than the flag remaining in the cockpit (actually sucked outside of it by pressure difference)….

    • Tom Jones

      Well said David. But yeah, Lace trimmed headrest? what was he thinking!

      • plusnine

        What was he thinking? How about “do you know how many North Korean girls are going to see this?”

        Dude is probably killing it back at home. Fighter pilots gonna fighter pilot.

    • Business traveller

      cencio4. I don´t understand why the US military allows loose items in the cockpit such as flags. There is plenty of stories of flights that have gone wrong where loose items have gotten caught up in flight controls and caused a crash or a serious incident. I don´t know if pilots carry these flags into combat, or just carry them on ferry flights, but it doesn´t make sense to me.

      Look at the recent incident with a RAF 330 tanker where a simple movement of the seat caused a camera to get jammed between the seat and sidestick, causing the plane to loose several thousand feet of height in the process.

      • Jeff

        Read enough aviation books and sooner or later you’ll come across stories of squadron mascots being taken on flights, including transatlantic deployments. I’ve read this about dogs, pigs, and snakes. All were flown in USAF fighter aircraft. I am in no way defending this being done, just pointing out that the North Korean air force has no monopoly on non-standard things in a cockpit.

      • FoilHatWearer

        What I find ridiculous are the nomex gloves with the fingertips cut off that the US Navy pilots use. Somebody needs to tell them that if you’re going to cut off the glove fingers at the first knuckle, you might as well just chuck the gloves completely. There are MANY instances of pilots having career-ending injuries from post-crash fire because they weren’t wearing nomex gloves or were wearing nomex gloves that were excessively worn.

    • Jeff

      They don’t have cushions on the ejection seat. Having flown in about a dozen different ejection seat-equipped aircraft, my rear end can assure you that they don’t.

  • Charlie Crews

    YES…if in your weird opinión the laced cushion is a North Korean Natonal Symbol it’s absolutly the shame….no more to say about your really biased opinión…..

  • Ron Johnstone

    One might wonder what his G-suit is adorned with?

  • Pepe Le Cox

    I think they are the women pilots of the NKPR, which we seen a few weeks ago with Kim Jong Un in CNN

  • P.Act

    There must be a propaganda aim behind that scene, as always they do_trying to say everything can become North Korean! even the cockpit of a fighter plane originally from a semi European Country like Russia!

  • RobJ

    If there’s a fire in the cockpit, would you rather have the fire right behind your head, or off to the side? Would you want the fire to follow you out of the plane?

  • BernardP

    Probably a Good Luck charm made by the pilot’s wife.

  • Chris Duffy

    Proof that people will be offended about anything.

    Are we to ignore as well the “unnecessary negative bias” when the United Nations reports that this country’s leader spends upwards of a half billion dollars on luxury goods like Rolexes and Rolls Royces while half his nation barely subsists on starvation diets?

    Is it an “unnecessary negative bias” when Amnesty International calls North Korea a “totalitarian state where tens of thousands of people are enslaved and tortured.”.

    There’s a lot to be ‘disappointed’ about this article, Mr. Guevara. The DPRK’s nonstop saber-rattling and destabilization of peace. Fleets of fighter jets it doesn’t need while its’ people barely survive. A tyrannical despot who clings to power by using the fear of the great final war to paralyze his nation into submission.

    Being amused by lacey aircraft seat covers isn’t one of them, sir.

  • Ed

    Oh come on. It’s culture! Is it really that weird that people simply do things differently elsewhere? Maybe have different standards regarding fire hazards and so on?

    What we find rediculous they find normal, and, there’s probably a fair amount of things that we find normal, but they find preposterous. Perhaps they’d consider us disrespectful, unloving d**ks if we’d refuse the headrest cover our wives made for us.

    In summary, not everyone has to be like we are in the West!

    • Bez

      Well said, Ed.

  • Bigdirk
    • Nice catch. Given it looks like standard issue, likely an item of propaganda – which “trumps” function in the world of North Korea. Can anyone read the inscription?

  • jetaddicted

    Possibly because it’s kitsch as hell under any standard?

  • Jeff

    How many of those brightly-painted CAG birds are at any at all risk of facing other fighter aircraft? I well remember the rapid toning-down of all markings on U.S. military aircraft that followed the Iran hostage crisis. It was a hell of a long time before any artwork or colour re-appeared and you can be sure that if things get ugly with a country that has a viable air force, it will happen again.

    • Marco

      exactly… how many of those ace-trimmed covers are going to burn their pilot alive?

  • FoilHatWearer

    Nice seat cushion, did he get that from his grandmother?

  • MW

    Maybe kimmie knitted those for all his pilots.