(This classic Dave Barry column was originally published Sunday, September 24, 1989)
I'm going to start my own airline. Hey, why not? This is America, right? Anybody can have an airline. They even let Donald Trump have one, which he immediately renamed after himself, as is his usual classy practice despite the fact that "Trump" sounds like the noise emitted by livestock with gastric disorders ("Stand back, Earl! That cow's starting to Trump!").
Well if he can do it, I can do it. My airline will be called: "Air Dave." All the planes in the Air Dave fleet will utilize state-of-the-art U.S. Defense Department technology, thus rendering them -- this is the key selling point -- invisible to radar. That's right: I'm talking about a stealth airline.
Think about it. If you're a frequent flier, you know that the big problem with commercial aviation today is that the planes can be easily detected by Air Traffic Control, which is run by severely overstressed people sitting in gloomy rooms drinking coffee from Styrofoam cups and staring at little radar- screen dots, each one representing several hundred carefree people drinking Bloody Marys at 35,000 feet. Naturally the air- traffic controllers become resentful, which is why they routinely order your Boston-to-Pittsburgh flight to circle Mexico City until the captain reports that the entire passenger sector is experiencing Barf Bag Overload.
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They won't be able to do that stuff to Air Dave. They won't even be aware that an Air Dave flight is in the vicinity until it screams past the control tower at Mach 2, clearly displaying its laser-guided air-to-tower missiles, and requests permission to land immediately.
Air Dave planes will not park at a gate. Air Dave planes will taxi directly to the rental-car counter.
The official Air Dave spokesperson will be Sean Penn.
There will be no mutant in-flight "food" served on Air Dave. At mealtime, the pilot will simply land -- on an interstate, if necessary -- and take everybody to a decent restaurant.
Air Dave will do everything possible to live up to its motto: "Hey, You Only Go Around Once." There will be no in-fight movies. There will be live bands. Every flight will feature a complimentary Petting Zoo Cart. Air Dave will also boast the aviation industry's finest in-flight pranks. For example, just after takeoff the door to the cockpit might "accidentally" swing open, revealing to the passengers that the sole occupant up there, cheerfully sniffing the altimeter, is a Labrador retriever named "Boomer."
All Air Dave planes will have skywriting capability.
Air Dave pilots will be chosen strictly on the basis of how entertaining their names sound over the public-address system, as in "First Officer LaGrange Weevil" or (ideally) "Captain Deltoid P. Hamsterlicker." Pilots will be encouraged to share their thoughts and feelings with the passengers via regular announcements such as: "What the heck does THIS thing do?" and "Uh-oh!"
In the event of an emergency, a ceiling panel will open up over each seat and out will pop: Tony Perkins.
I've given a lot of thought to the flight attendants. My original idea was to use mimes, who would go around pretending to serve beverages, etc. But then I got to thinking about an opinion voiced a few months back by Al Neuharth, the brain cell behind USA Today ("The Nation's Weather Map"). You may remember this: Mr. Neuharth wrote a column in which he was highly critical of today's flight attendants, whom he described as "aging women" and "flighty young men." And quite frankly I think he has a point, which is why all the flight attendants on Air Dave will be hired on the basis of looking as much as possible like the ultimate human physical specimen: Al Neuharth. Assuming we can find anybody that short.
The Preflight Safety Lecture on Air Dave will consist of five minutes of intensive harmonica instruction. Passengers will also be notified that under Federal Aviation Administration regulations, anyone requesting a "light" beer must be ejected over Utah.
Air Dave pilots will have standing orders to moon the Concorde.
* * *
So that's the Air Dave Master Plan. On behalf of Captain Hamsterlicker and the entire crew of Neuharths, let me say that it's been a real pleasure having you read the column today. And remember: Under the Air Dave Frequent Flier program, if you log just 25,000 miles, we'll let you off the plane.
© 2010, Dave Barry
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