(CNN) — Search the hashtag “pilots of Instagram” and you’ll be greeted by an endless amount of images of pilots in uniform posing it up.
Pilots are hugely popular on the social media platform, with some garnering more followers than Hollywood stars.
One of the most famous is Patrick Biedenkapp, or PilotPatrick, who has nearly 800,000 followers. PilotAmireh, Anas Amireh, isn’t far behind, with just under half a million.
In fact, Amireh, who also has a popular YouTube channel, says he often gets recognized by his followers while he’s flying, or even when he’s on vacation.”
Almost every country I go to, there are people who know who I am,” he tells CNN Travel. “My followers come and want to take photos, which is really cool and I share stories with them.
“When I was in New York, I went to Times Square and after five minutes a guy came up to me and was like ‘Hey Pilot Amireh.’
The world is so small.”But why are Instagram users so captivated by pilots?
“When I was in New York, I went to Times Square and after five minutes a guy came up to me and was like ‘Hey Pilot Amireh.’ The world is so small.”But why are Instagram users so captivated by pilots?
Pilot Raymon Cohen, who flies private jets and has over 80,000 Instagram followers, believes it’s due to the inaccessibility of the cockpit, adding that there’s been a definite shift since changes were made to the security of cockpits after 9/11.”
People are not welcome in the cockpit anymore, so it’s like a big secret,” says Cohen, whose Instagram handle is PilotRaymon. “Now this [following pilots on Instagram] is one of the only ways people can see what’s happening.”
Far from just admiring eye-catching images on their feeds, many of the users who follow pilot Instagrammers are looking for specific information related to aviation, from how to become a pilot, to questions related to safety, as well as airplane turbulence.
Cohen and fellow pilot Instagrammers are often contacted by young people keen to pursue a career in aviation but concerned about flight school fees, which can run up to at least $80,000 for those with no previous flying experience.
Michelle Gooris, whose account Dutch Pilot Girl has drawn around 267,000 followers, is acutely aware that many of her followers are looking for advice about aviation, and tries to make her posts as informative as possible.
“I’m more focused on providing information and shedding light on the aviation industry,” says Gooris, pictured above while in the cockpit.
“I think that my audience prefers this.”Gooris notes that the majority of her followers are male.”I think it’s because most pilots are still male. Only a slight percentage of women want to do this job, or think that they can do this job.”
A 2019 survey conducted by the Red C on behalf of Aer Lingus polled 500 adults aged 18 to 30 and found that twice as many of the males had considered a career as a pilot.
“I’ve found that people are still often genuinely surprised when they see a female pilot,” says pilot and Instagrammer Maria Fagerstrom, also know as Maria the Pilot.
“But that’s only because we are a minority in the industry. Of all the pilots out there, 95% of them are male, and I’d would love to see that female ratio increase.”
I will continue to spread any message that brings people attention to that, because I think by regularly promoting flying as a career option to young girls we can close the gender gap — together.”