Tuesday, September 7, 2010

He'll take you up; he'll bring you down.

Heard of Michael O'Leary? He's a moron, albeit a very rich and successful one.

He owns an airline. His airline is Ryan Air, of Ireland. It's the premier lost-cost flying cattle car company in Europe. But people ride his planes because his prices are nasty, rotten dirty cheap. They're cheap because he is always looking for ways to cut corners. He has cut employee pay to the bone, and can't do much more damage, so he has come up with another idea: DO AWAY WITH THE CO-PILOT.

Now, you know we don't call the guy or gal who sits across from the captain a “co-pilot” in this industry―the military does that. We call them “First Officers,” or F/O for short. The reason we do that is because they do not merely assist the captain, they are second-in-command. Mr. O'Leary wants a flight attendant to be second-in-command. (I think he still calls them “stewardesses”).

Think I'm making this up? Click here and read: Ryan Air
O'Leary told Bloomberg Business Week, “Why does every plane have two pilots? Really, you only need one pilot.” He likened flying a modern airliner to playing a computer game. “Let's take out the second pilot. Let the bloody computer fly it.” Now let's see how this might work. Hmm. 

Okay, I'm descending through stormy skies toward our destination. I'm tired and very lonely, since I'm the only one on the flight deck. This plane needs to go back to the manufacturer so they can move about a hundred switches, buttons and knobs over so that I can reach them. Suddenly I'm feeling dizzy and ill. Must be that rancid kidney pie they fed me, for which they docked my minimum wage pay. So I “ring the bell” that Mr. O'Leary envisioned, and up comes a voluptuous stewardess, giggling and looking back over her shoulder at her peers. Her fists are balled against her cheeks. “I get to fly the plane!” she squeals. Her co-workers clap. “Good for you, Rose. Go get em', gal!”

I hear the passengers applaud and cheer. They're happy. They didn't have to pay for this innovative new safety initiative, and they're getting their money's-worth.
My vision fades in and out as she squirms into her seat, tugging at her mini-skirt. She exercises her fingers.

“Okay, where is the button,” she asks with coy giggle.

“What button?” I ask, fighting to stay conscious.

“You know, the Sully button!”

“The what?”

“Like that American chap. You remember, Captain Sullen-whoever. He landed the plane in the river when the engines went dead. That button!” She looks at me waiting for me to praise her aeronautical knowledge.

“He used this,” I say, pointing to the control yoke.

“Oh!” she said. “Yes, they told us about that. They said when you push it the houses get bigger. When you pull back they get smaller. Keep pulling back and they get big again ."

"That was a joke," I informed her.

She looked puzzled and shook her head. “I don't get it.”

“How did they come to choose you for the emergency pilot training.”  

She gleamed. I was Miss Ryan Air, 2010. I'm on the cover of the calendar.”

I manage what feels like my last breath. “There's no one button, Lassie. There's lots of buttons. Didn't they teach you that?”

“Yes, but I was really tired that day they taught me. Just, like, totally wiped out, you know. Too much partying, you know. We were very excited about getting accepted to Mr. Ryan's stewardess school.”

I try to refresh her memory on the sequence of events and the procedures to get the plane down, avoiding the thunderstorms, calculating the landing and go-around performance criteria, getting out the proper STAR charts, and approach plates, tuning and identifying the proper frequencies, testing the auto-land system...but she interrupts me, her head shaking, eyebrows furrowed. She sure looks cute when she furrows those brows.

“They went over that stuff right after lunch. I was, like, really drowsy. I don't remember much.

“Have you ever even flown a plane?” I ask.

“Oh, no!” she giggles.

“Simulator?” I press.

She blushes. “Captain!”

“Oh! But this one guy in my class, he, like, had some flying lessons once in a Cessna, or whatever, and he, like, taught us a lot!” Her head is nodding assurance to me. Just before my vision goes away, I manage to say,

“Get him up here!”

“Oh, I can't! He's not here. They promoted him to captain. He's flying another plane.”

She tosses her head up and giggles in glee. “Oh! He was so cute!”

I'm fading now. The last vision is the Level 4 thunder cell straight ahead on the radar weather display. As the world around me melts away, the last I hear is a voice from the open door to the cabin.

“Remember, it's just a big computer game, Rose. Keep pushing buttons until―”

Losing consciousness, I become the luckiest person on the plane.

Click here on this Moody Blues classic and imagine they're saying "Michael O'Leary" when they say "Timothy Leary." You'll get the picture.
Sunset over Newfoundland

Quote of the post:
The appropriation of a concubine, I remembered from a certain night in Peking, was a most delicate business.
-Earnest Gann