Hey Redbaron. I’m really sorry about this. It was all set but never got posted. You’re not the only one who wondered about it. Hope this clears it up.
January 14, 2010
Hi redbaron1948 –
Your last question has me cracking up. People have used various combination of the search terms: Skiles + neck + weird.
Part of the visual “weirdness” is the fact that he is not wearing his uniform (what most people have only ever seen him wear) and instead is wearing an open-collared shirt. And then there’s the odd camera angle and the way his head is held a little forward.
Once you notice it it’s hard not to be mesmerized by it, which is probably why folks keep searching for an explanation.
What looks “weird” are the veins in his neck that come up on an angle in the front on both sides. Most people (who are not morbidly obese or extremely “short necked”) don’t have such large veins and what you usually see are the strap-like muscles of the neck and a distinct transition to the throat.
Photo: Anatomical lateral view of the neck. Muscles in red – external jugular vein in blue. Note how it crosses in front of the neck muscles, which is why it can be seen so clearly.
Skiles’ jugular veins are not only visible – flattening and distending with respiration, they are larger in caliber than the norm.
Pilots get frequent physicals for obvious reasons so I’m guessing his is just an anatomical variant and not something pathologic.
Here’s a progression of the distention from almost flat to fully distended.
When he takes a breath, the veins flatten.
As he talks they distend…
When he gets to the end of his breath, the veins are fully distended…then he inhales and the veins flatten.
Seen best on the video, which can’t be embedded here.