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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Yes, that pilot really did just flip off Whatcom County

Sept. 2, 2022 Updated Fri., Sept. 2, 2022 at 10:12 p.m.

A flight monitoring map revealed a unique flight path taken on Monday in Washington state.  (Flight Aware/KCPQ)
A flight monitoring map revealed a unique flight path taken on Monday in Washington state. (Flight Aware/KCPQ)
By David Rasbach Bellingham Herald

Ever have one of those days – especially on a Monday? One where you just wanna flip off everyone?

A pilot apparently had some strong feelings – or at least some extra time and fuel – to show Whatcom County what he thought , as flight tracking data shows he traced the image of a hand with an extended middle finger above the county Monday.

Though the county’s skies were cloudless, it’s likely nobody, except the pilot, knew what he was tracing at the time he or she was doing so.

According to flight tracking data on, the plane took off at 9:15 a.m. Monday from Bellingham International Airport headed north toward the border, but turned to the east near the Lynden area and began tracing “the bird” outline east of Nooksack.

After taking a little more than a half-hour to give his version of a one-finger salute at approximately 11,000 feet, the pilot did a number of tight zig-zags back and forth across northern Whatcom County and British Columbia airspace east of Vancouver, before returning and touching down in Bellingham at 4:09 p.m.

Though the pilot’s identity is not listed in the data associated with the flight, the plane’s tail number (N59906) shows it was a Piper Navajo twin-piston (PA31) that is registered to Marc, Inc., in Bolton, Mississippi. According to Marc’s website, it is “North America’s largest provider of specialized contract aircraft and flight crews for airborne GIS (airborne geophysical surveys), surveys and surveillance projects.”

The Bellingham Herald has reached out to the company for comment about Monday’s “unusual” flight path by one of its planes.

Before being purchased by Marc in 2007, the plane had a brief history with the U.S. Department of Justice, the plane’s flightaware registration record shows.

The middle finger flight path was first pointed out on Reddit with a post headlined “Looks like a Survey Pilot’s last day today.” As of Tuesday afternoon, the post had more than 700 comments, many marveling at the pilot’s craftsmanship and level of detail.

“Talk about detail, he even put a thumbnail on!” one commenter said.

“Must be a pro at Etch A Sketch,” another commenter quipped.

Monday’s Whatcom flip-off also brings to mind a 2017 incident, when a pilot of a warplane from U.S. Naval Air Station Whidbey traced male genitals in the skies above Okanogan County. Unlike Monday’s artwork over Whatcom County, the Okanogan incident was traced in contrails.

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