We’ve been using Pilot sign pens since the 1990s, starting with the Pilot V5 (in black, green or purple). Newspaper editors swear by them. Ten years ago we tried the Pilot VBall Extra Fine (always black), and it’s been our absolute favorite writing instrument since. In the mid-noughties we heard that this line was being phased out and we went into a panic. Happily it is still available at our local bookstores. We always carry 3 or 4 of these pens at all times (Our excuse is, we scribble for living) and use one up every week or so. Whenever we lose one we kick ourselves.
Recently we realized something about our beloved Pilot VBall Extra Fine. Our discovery does not diminish our attachment to this excellent apparatus, but we do worry for our clothes. You see, this pen has the tendency to explode in airplanes. (Haha Pilots on planes.)
On at least six occasions, the last one a week ago, we’ve opened a Pilot VBall Extra Fine in an airline cabin in order to write notes, only to find ink all over our fingers. The ink leaks out of the nib. In each case, the pen was half-empty (You can see the ink level through the transparent tube) or half-full if you’re an optimist. We figure the leakage has something to do with cabin pressure.
Fortunately the exploded pens have not leaked onto our notes or clothes, although we now have a couple of bags with Rorschach blots on them. (Obviously it’s the lambs screaming, Clarice.) We are devoted to these pens and will keep on using them, but next time we get on a plane they’re going in a Zip-loc bag.
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Esoteric nerd knowledge from Miguel R: “Pilot techpoints explode in planes because of the pressure difference. So when you take the cap off, kaboom! One solution I’ve read about is to invert the pen so all the ink is in the bottom when you take off the cap.”
Please try this on your next plane ride and tell us if it solves the problem. In return we will give you…Pilot pens!!!