Austrian Pilot Says ‘Stay Home’ With Unusual Flight Path

An Austrian pilot decided to take to the sky flying a Diamond DA40 Diamond Star to deliver a potent message this morning. On the short flight from Wiener Neustadt to Graz just south of Vienna, the captain of the four-seat single-engine aircraft spelled out the words “stay home” on the radar track. 

Stay Home Flight path
An Austrian pilot drew a clear plea on the radar track Monday. Photo:

12 minutes per word

Taking off for a short 24-minute flight, the pilot of the Austrian-made light aircraft flew in an intricate pattern to create the effect of letters in green when tracked on the radar. Commencing shortly after 13.00 local time at an airfield in Wiener Neustadt and ending at another in Graz right before 14.00, tracking on GPS, the flight path drew the words “stay home.” 

In normal times, this may have been seen as an anti-immigration coup, but as the travel bans continue to unfold across Europe and the world, it would be reasonable to assume that it is related to coronavirus. The public in most countries are being encouraged to refrain from any unnecessary travel, and to stay at home, socially distancing themselves from others, either by quarantine enforcement or by undertaking voluntary isolation. 

Diamond DA40 draws flight path stay home
The pilot was flying an Austrian Diamond DA40 Diamond Star. Photo: Getty Images


The message echoes that of the hashtag #stayhome that is trending across social media. Users are utilizing it to encourage people to refrain from travel, and to socially distance themselves from others to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Even tourism agencies such as Visit Estonia has created a campaign that says “Visit Estonia… Later. #stayhome.” Local airline airBaltic has also suspended all flights until mid-April

The former governor of California (and, of course, Terminator) Arnold Schwarzenegger posted a video from his kitchen to his Facebook page with his mini pony and pet donkey saying that “no more restaurants, public gatherings, forget all that. We stay home.” And, naturally, there are cat videos galore. 

The plane had been taken for a spin from Wiener Neustadt earlier the same morning, landing again at the same airfield only 21 minutes later. Not a test run however as the plane simply flew back and forth a few times before touching down from where it took off. It is unclear whether or not it was the same pilot. 

Other decorative flight paths

This is not the first time flight plans have been more on the expressive side, but in the past, the creative ones have had a tendency to be more on the artistic and decorative side, rather than statements in the air.

El Al’s last-ever Boeing 747 flight from Rome’s Fiumicino airport to Tel Aviv added an extra two hours to its flight time to draw a precise track of the outlines of an aircraft in the sky just south of Cyprus. Another self-portrait was executed by a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner during an 18-hour endurance test over America, encompassing 22 states. 

The Austrian situation

Earlier today, Austrian Airlines announced that it will be temporarily suspending all flights for ten days beginning Wednesday. This is an initial estimate and is likely to be extended. Two aircraft will remain in service for relief and evacuation flights. At the time of writing, Austria has 860 confirmed coronavirus cases and has imposed partial border closures and extra border checks.