by Steve Ricci
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal investigators are struggling to determine what the crew of a Northwest Airlines jetliner were doing at 37,000 feet as they sped 150 miles past their Minneapolis destination and military jets scrambled to chase them. The pilots — Richard Cole of Salem, Ore., the first officer, and Timothy Cheney of Gig Harbor, Wash., the captain — said in interviews conducted over the weekend that they were not fatigued and didn’t fall asleep.
First Officer Cole: Let me know if you get tired and I’ll take over.
Captain Cheney: I’m fine. I had a double-shot latte back in Newark.
First Officer Cole: Yes, but you know how quickly caffeine goes through you.
Captain Cheney: I’m FINE. Just let me fly already. Besides, I don’t want you messing with my seat position. I have it just the way I want it.
First Officer Cole: Well, you don’t have to get snippy. Excuse me, Flight Attendant? What’s all that barking I hear back there?
Flight Attendant: It seems Mrs. Cruikshank’s Pomeranian is trying to claw its way out of the pet carrier.
Captain Cheney: You tell her that I said, if she doesn’t shut that mutt up, I’ll send them BOTH to the luggage deck.
First Officer Cole: Oh, yeah. You’re fine, Captain Cranky. Just fine. Is there an instrument in this cockpit that measures blood pressure? Because yours is about to depressurize the cabin.
Captain Cheney: What do you expect? That psychotic fur ball hasn’t stopped yapping since we took off.
First Officer Cole: Speaking of taking off, did you remember to put the landing gear up?
Captain Cheney: Yes, I remembered to put the gear up. How many times do you plan to ask me if I put the gear up? It’s UP!
First Officer Cole: Okay, okay. I’m just saying… Hey look, that’s the Mall of America down there! Think we can make a quick stop?
Captain Cheney: No.
First Officer Cole: Why not? We’re making good time, aren’t we?
Captain Cheney: We’re not on this trip to go shopping. And why do you have to go to a mall just because it’s ten times bigger than the average mall? All that means is that they have ten times more crap.
First Officer Cole: We never do anything spontaneous anymore. Hey, wait a minute. That can’t be the Mall of America, it’s way too tiny. Are you sure you know where we are?
Captain Cheney: Yes, I’m sure. Uh… I …um…
First Officer Cole: Because I don’t think you know how to operate all these fancy gizmos.
Captain Cheney: Mother of Mercy. I can’t have this conversation again.
First Officer Cole: “Let’s take the nice compact Beechcraft and maybe save a little gas,” I said. But noooo… You had to have the enormous twin-engine Airbus A320 with all the fancy schmancy navigational gear that you don’t know how to operate because the owner’s manual is six hundred and fifty pages long. And now we’re lost.
Captain Cheney: We’re not lost!
First Officer Cole: Then where are we?
Captain Cheney: (Inaudible muttering)
First Officer Cole: I knew it.
Captain Cheney: We’re not LOST, I’m just… I’m… Flight Attendant! What the hell is all that commotion back there?
Flight Attendant: We’ll, it seems that 14A and 16B are having a slap fight over the last pair of headphones.
Captain Cheney: Oh good Christ.
First Officer Cole: I told you we should have gotten a Triptik…
Captain Cheney (opens P.A. system): Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. You people had better cut out the friggin’ nonsense, because if I have to come back there, I WILL crack open some heads. Do you read me? Thank you. Enjoy the rest of your flight.
First Officer Cole: Brilliant, Dr. Phil. Threaten them with violence. That always works.
Captain Cheney: Please. I’m begging you. Stop talking.
First Officer Cole: Where are we now? Is it so hard to just get on the radio and ask directions?
Captain Cheney: WE ARE NOT LOST!
First Officer Cole: I can’t talk to you when you get like this.
Flight Attendant: Excuse me, sir?
Captain Cheney: What is it now?
Flight Attendant: Well, apparently the chemical toilet is malfunctioning and several passengers are complaining that they really, really need to go.
Captain Cheney: Oh, for the love of… I TOLD those people to go during the layover in Pittsburgh!
First Officer Cole: According to Google Earth, we’re somewhere over Montana. You really had better get on that radio.
Captain Cheney (opens P.A. system): Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captain speaking again. If you people don’t settle down, I swear, I will turn this plane around RIGHT now and put you all on a Greyhound bus. Ever been on a cross-country bus ride? It’s like being in a terrorist prison camp but with extra torture. This is what we get for giving you enough free snack food to clog a municipal sewer system. Now just pipe down and play with your stupid hand-held electronic devices. We’ll be arriving at our destination shortly. Thank you for flying Northwest. Your business is important to us.
First Officer Cole: Our destination? Ha! I think we’re somewhere over Boise.
Captain Cheney: If you don’t like it, there’s a parachute in the back.
First Officer Cole: Very funny, Mr. “I Know Exactly Where I Am”. Fine. YOU can explain this to the FAA; I’m not getting involved. I told you to keep your job with Amtrak. “Can’t get lost on a train track,” I said.. But no, you HAD to have a pilot’s license.
Captain Cheney: What is that smell?
Flight Attendant: Uh, well, Mrs. Cruikshank let her dog out of his carrier and he threw up on the beverage cart. It’s pretty noxious back there.
Captain Cheney: Where’s the ejection trigger?
First Officer Cole: Hey, Lucky Lindy? That GPS instrument thingy says we’re 150 miles past our destination! NOW do you want to make a U-turn, or should we just wait until we get shot down for violating Chinese air space?
Captain Cheney: That can’t be right. Damn foreign-made gauges…
First Officer Cole: Sigh. Now I’m going to be late meeting my mother at the gate. She BEGGED me to be first officer on a Norwegian Cruise luxury liner, but no…
Captain Cheney: (Inaudible muttering)
First Officer Cole: Oh my god! There’s an F-14 fighter pilot tailgating us! I think he’s trying to pull us over. WILL YOU SLOW DOWN!!
Captain Cheney: Holy Crap ’n Crisco. Okay, okay, don’t panic. Just shut up and let me do the talking.
First Officer Cole: He’s sending us a text message on my iPhone!
Captain Cheney: What? What’s he saying?
First Officer Cole: He says the landing gear is down.
Steve Ricci is a writer, editor, and photographer who has never once donated money to an organization that sent him decorative return-address labels; although he uses them all the time.
© 2009 Steve Ricci