FlyJinks: Well that was really stupid.


Mimi has always been one of my favorite flight attendants: self-assured, smart, and a real sharp tongue coupled with a very sarcastic sense of humor. Rewinding to my DC-10 First Officer days, (okay, I’ve been a captain for 20 years now, do the math), I recall Mimi’s dedicated enthusiasm for a practical joke on a new flight engineer, an old tradition back in the days when we had new pilots and flight attendants joining our ranks literally by the thousands.

Although I usually took no part, I always got a laugh anyway. For instance, I can’t recall how many times I watched a captain send a new flight attendant back to the cabin to get some “air samples” in a barf bag. The passengers must have thought they were nuts.

Mimi’s plan involved luring  the engineer into the cabin to deal with a problem in the lav. Yes, the engineer wasn’t called “the plumber” for nothing. He’d put all of the hydraulic pumps to high pressure (hey, I was a DC-10 engineer way back), then all the fuel boost pumps back on, grab his hat and a few tools and head for the cabin.

DC-10 plumber's station. I did a year there . . .

Mimi was an expert in creating certain particularly vulgar sculptures from bran muffins and apple jelly, two items in the breakfast pastry stock in First Class. What she–and other flight attendants–would sculpt looked like the output of a German shepherd after digesting five pounds of raw meat, then squatting on your lawn.

The plan was to lay the sculpture next to the seat or on the seat in the lav, then call the engineer: “Look what someone did . . .” When he shrank away in revulsion, the flight attendant would scold him, then with her bare hands pick up the reshaped bran muffin  and wave it around like it was nothing, freaking out the engineer who was visualizing German shepherd output the whole time.

Funny. So Mimi creates her masterpiece, then slips it gingerly into a side pocket on her uniform dress (fragile! don’t spoil the shape!) and walks up the aisle through First Class toward one of the forward lavs.

She told me later she wasn’t exactly sure what happened, but on the way to the forward lav, a bump of turbulence jolted her sideways and her hip hit the credenza below the TV screen in First Class. The end result was her standing before the first row of First Class, and the oblong sculpture had flopped out of her dress and plopped down between her legs on the carpet. As if she’d just done the nasty deed right there.

Despite the gawking, the horrified passenger looks, other flight attendants told me Mimi just reached down as if it were nothing, snatched up the offending torpedo, and walked forward, eventually ending up in the cockpit.

“The deal’s off,” she told me, a finger to her lips. The Flight Engineer was off the hook–at least on that leg. Pretty sure she got him later.

While we’re on the DC-10–my second favorite jet to fly, behind the 737-800–maybe I could relate the tale that involved a half dozen flight attendants in the lower galley in their nightgowns calling me and one of my favorite pilots (we still see each other and back up the facts to whomever else has trouble believing the true story) from the cockpit one at a time for a “slumber party,” with 275 passengers upstairs clueless except for the fact that so many flight attendants seemed to have vanished.

Well, maybe next time.

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12 Responses to “FlyJinks: Well that was really stupid.”

  1. Still laughing at the first story.

  2. Hahahaha, awesome. I love these kind of stories about ‘back then’. Love the DC-10/MD-11 too, wonderful aircraft…I should’ve been born earlier 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!
    Bas

    • Yeah, I’m lucky to have flown the Big-10, the best hand-flying jet I’ve flown–until I got my hands on the 737-800 which I just painted onto the runway at LaGarbage a few minutes ago.

       Chris

      Sent from my iPhone, so please pardon the typos.

  3. You did tell us about the tale of the flight attendants in night gowns. One by one you were called down except for one pilot who was unwanted. So I guess what we see in the the TV show Pan Am isn’t far from the truth.

  4. Captain Manno

    Looks like Luc refreshed your memory. I get like that too…maybe it’s blog amnesia? Or maybe it’s a captain thing? ☺

    FYI the Pan Am T.V series is Canadian and romances the iconic good ole days of aviation. Funny it still lures people into this industry and with suggestive “slumber parties” at flight level…I want in. Either that, I want my money back. LOL

    With your high caliber of writing I am taken aback as to why your readership is not through the roof. This is just my blog CRM talking …but maybe if your insinuation of stupidity was toned a bit you would be an aviation blog rock star.

    For me, after three years of blogging, I’ve set the parking brake.

    Captain Doug in cyber space limbo and yet… “gone flying.”

    • I’m sorry to hear you’re going NORDO–maybe just take some time off? I think you always contributed a smart, strong voice from our side of the cockpit door.

      I get your CRM loud and clear. But for me, it’s like my band: never cared about being a rock star; we play only original stuff, no covers. So we only get booked in showcase events on someone else’s bill opening for somebody. BFD–we just play our stuff (been told it’s like Allman Bros. meets Jimi Hendrix) for ourselves and a small core group who follow us.

      Ditto the cartoon work–it’s in several published collections and all free online (Flightcrewzoo.com), just to be what it is: a smile and a laugh between aviators.

      So too the blog: it’s who I am, how I am in real life (Captain Chaos was imprinted on me in the early 90s) and I guess I ain’t mainstream marketable. So be it! We have our ragtag JetHead core group who, like the special folks who groove on the Hendrix-Allman hybrid, are just sharing a smile and a nod at what might happen to move us. Eff the marketplace.

      You’re just on hiatus–get some intellectual crewrest and let’s pull chocks again tomorrow.

       Chris

      Sent from my iPhone, so please pardon the typos.

  5. Chris…Just thought I’d add my two cents worth…

    ….”a word to the wise is sufficient.”

    All the best!

    Captain Doug

  6. rsmithing Says:

    Nice post. Nothing like having some fun on the job. Sometimes its a choice between that, or totally losing it, so I vote for fun.

    I noticed your post when researching air travel recently. You might be interested a post I wrote about some super-travelers called mile runners. From a pilot’s perspective, I’d be curious to know your thoughts.

    • Sure–post the link here. And welcome aboard–strap in, sometimes the ride gets rough.

      • I checked it out–nice blog! I’ll be following from time to time.

        As for the mile runners: I guess they’re like couponers, and that’s perfectly legit. But like coupon maximizers, sometimes they have to get stuff they really didn’t need in quantities that are well beyond what’s needed in order to get the “deal.” Which is the operative principle of Costco, which I use to the max as well: “Hey, I saved a dollar on five pounds of asparagus!”

        I don’t know much about pricing and marketing since I never buy tickets, so I have no idea if they’re really getting a good deal or not. I just know that if a destination is within 300 miles, I’m avoiding the whole airport gauntlet and driving and here’s an inside tip: AMTRAK has some $100 round-trips that take only 20-30% more time than driving, but no traffic and no driving. I’m in.

      • rsmithing Says:

        You said it right there; “deal.” It’s not for everyone, but if you’re going to go through five pounds of asparagus anyway, might as well get the full benefit. Amtrak, now there’s an entire other blog story. Thanks for checking out my post!

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