I Am The 'Top Gun' Of Commercial Airline Pilots

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Vol 38 Issue 36

Cage Match Settles Nothing

PONTIAC, MI—The long-awaited steel-cage match between World Championship Wrestling rivals Violator and Psycho Sid, widely expected to settle a bitter dispute between the two, settled nothing Monday. "After all the accusations and insults exchanged between these men, I really had high hopes that this cage match would, at long last, provide some resolution and maybe even a sense of closure," WCW fan Jordan Bumpers said. "Yet, strangely, I feel like they're no closer to understanding each other's point of view than before they entered the cage." Psycho Sid, who lost the match by disqualification, continues to insist that he is the superior wrestler, a claim with which Violator vehemently disagreed.

Purchase Justified By Theoretical $50 Rebate

LAKESIDE, VA—The theoretical possibility of receiving a $50 mail-in rebate motivated shopper Jim Crewes, 28, to purchase a color printer Monday. "I really can't afford to be buying a computer right now," Crewes said. "But if I buy the printer and two toner refills, and save the receipt and UPC symbols from all the boxes and buy two more Pitney Bowes products and save those receipts and symbols, and then send it all in with the original rebate coupon, and the offer's still good by then, I'm looking at 50 smackers." Crewes was also swayed by the printer's extended-warranty option, which provides free service and repairs if the printer broke and he actually shipped it back to its manufacturer, which he never would.

Tokyo Squeezes In Five More Residents

TOKYO—Tokyo somehow managed to squeeze in five more residents Monday, when the Takashi family moved into a converted studio apartment. "This was a one-bedroom apartment housing a family of six, but a wall was cleverly constructed to create a small studio," city planning minister Hideki Kumagai said. "This was good: We rarely can fit new citizenry into our city without drilling into the bedrock." The Takashi family, brought in from Osaka's overflow, will pay the equivalent of $12,600 monthly for 144 square feet of living space.

Band Loudly Discusses Record Deal At IHOP

AKRON, OH—The five members of Ratchet Chunk, close to finalizing a deal with Columbus-based Ripchord Records, loudly discussed the deal at the Polk Road IHOP Monday. "We've got to insist on 60 percent of the gross," said bassist Gavin Lee, speaking loudly enough for the high-school girls three booths over to hear. "If they try to go 50-50, I say we take our demo to Dimebag [Records]." Lead singer Kris Maldonado added that he should receive co-producer credit for the album, as the demo was burned on his iMac.

Large Dependent Film Tops Weekend Box Office

HOLLYWOOD—In what is being hailed as a triumph for dependent cinema, Sony Pictures' A Perfect Alibi, a $90 million Mel Gibson-Cameron Diaz thriller, topped the weekend box office with an impressive $39 million take. "This just shows what can be accomplished when you've got a major studio's backing and distribution," executive producer Don Murray said Monday. "Contrary to what some in the movie business would have you believe, there is a place for big, non-character-driven pictures." Murray said he hopes the film's success serves as an inspiration to established, bankable actors and directors.

Conan 'Conanquers' The Emmys!

Item! It's a week later, and everybody's still buzzing about the star-packed Emmys. "According To" Jim Belushi was there, as was TV's reigning golden couple Jane Kaczyzmarezk and the guy from The West Wing. And who ever expected to see Kelsey Grammar at an Emmy ceremony? But the real star of the evening was the host himself, Mr. Conan O'Brian, who "conanquered" any doubts about whether he has what it takes to shine in prime time. "Conangratulations," Conan!

The NYC Smoking Ban

New York is one of a number of U.S. cities considering a ban on smoking in restaurants and bars. What do you think?
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I Am The 'Top Gun' Of Commercial Airline Pilots

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.

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