I Am The 'Top Gun' Of Commercial Airline PilotsCommentary • Opinion • human interest • movies • ISSUE 38•36 • Oct 2, 2002 By Capt. Ron "Mongoose" Haller, American Airlines Capt. Ron "Mongoose" Haller American Airlines I've been piloting DCs and 7s for American Airlines going on 15 years now, and I don't mind telling you, I'm the best there is. The Navy's flight school can only have one "Top Gun," and the same is true in commercial aviation. There are many great pilots at American and the other airlines, but none have the speed, wits, and solid-brass balls that I do. That's right, Capt. Ron "Mongoose" Haller is the Top Gun of airline pilots. To date, I've captained 2,947 domestic flights, and every single one arrived on time. Weather delays, safety procedures, FAA orders—it takes a hell of a lot more than all that to ground Mongoose, baby. What's my secret? Nothing fancy, no hocus pocus. I just know my shit—and treat the plane like a beautiful woman. One time, on a coast-to-coast, Engine Three went out over the Rockies. According to procedure, I'm supposed to radio a distress and land at the nearest airport. But I said to hell with that: Call me a wild card, a loose cannon, but Mongoose has never been one who slavishly follows "proper procedure." Besides, I've got 241 passengers who need to get to Frisco. I kept that bird up for 500 more miles and landed 12 minutes early. Now, the pinstripers weren't too thrilled about that, but I know how to keep them at bay. They can threaten to bust me down to Navigator, but I know they'd never actually go through with it. Why? Because I'm the best they've got. Then there was Flight 701 from Dulles to JFK a couple years back. We taxied almost 40 minutes late, and still those gutless sonofabitch controllers tried to put me in a takeoff queue. I knew the flight could land on time if I went for it, so I cut across the median and grabbed Runway F, which was down for routine maintenance. The lead controller screamed a blue streak, but I got those passengers into Terminal C three minutes ahead of schedule. To this day, the FAA still rides my ass about that one, carrying on with their by-the-book bullshit. I'll tell you the real reason for my being on the FAA's shit list. Let's just say Chief Boswell still hasn't forgotten about a little "incident" in flight school 20 years ago. It was Aug. 14, 1982. I was a cocky young buck then, at the stick of a DC-9 for the first time in my life. Boswell was my instructor. At 13,000 feet and climbing, he radios me to cut the fuel and land because of a radar problem on their end. Like I'm gonna cut my flight just because their damn ears are off. So I kept climbing to 20K, until that zero-visibility pinhead threatened to expel and blacklist me from every flight school in the country if I didn't make nice and come down. Well, I knew when I was beaten, but I got the last word by buzzing the tower, pulling away at the last possible second. I swear I saw that hardass dive under the console for cover, right in front of the CEO of Boeing. Later on, I heard Boswell was wearing different pants for the rest of the day. He never forgave me for humiliating him like that, and I only made it worse six years ago by taking the sexy stewardess he was looking to score with to the Norfolk Hilton for a night of sweet Mongoose Love. He's never forgotten that (and neither has that stewardess, I'm sure). To this day, Boswell rides my ass about every last rule in the book, every chance he gets. Don't get me wrong, I believe in the importance of rules and regulations for protecting clueless greenhorn pilots from themselves. But we're talking about Mongoose here. I laugh at air pockets. Turbulence is a walk in the park for me. Once, when a blizzard was approaching the East Coast, I maxed all the engines and went from LAX to Logan in five hours, still a passenger-aviation record. Did I break a sweat? Hell, no. I had Steel copiloting. With the Steel-Man to my right, I could scratch a cockroach's back with a 747 and still land at O'Hare under the gun. I have no patience for suits riding my ass about "the book says this" or "regulations say that." Or "a standard-issue Captain's hat does not have claws embroidered on it" or "every passenger on that flight has joined a class-action suit because they believed they were going to die." Hell, if those passengers don't think flying under the St. Louis Arch at 600 mph makes for a great story, they don't deserve to fly Mongoose Air. People say I'd be good enough to fly Air Force One if I weren't such a pistol. That's no skin off my ass. Let some namby-pamby milquetoast Air Force honors-student be a once-a-month chauffeur for the world's most overpaid kingfish. Mongoose serves the people. I gotta admit, though, just once I'd love to strap on one of those Concordes.