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Watching the Nats game this evening, I see that Southwest Airlines is announcing that starting November 1 it will serve Milwaulkee. 

This got me idly wondering:  What kind of pilot preparation is necessary before a commercial carrier starts hauling passengers to a given city?  I mean, I know that what with all the computerization the planes can practically land themselves and that at a certain level one airport is the same as another, but are pilots required to do some practice runs to a new destination before they’re let loose with the paying customers?  You know, to familiarize themselves with the place?

I ask this in particular given that my own home hub (National Airport in Dee Cee) has a particularly tricky, sort of giant slalom glide slope for planes landing from the north.  A number of years ago I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about seat-of-the-pants landings at National that I must admit did not fill me with much of a sense of confidence.

(By the way, here’s a curiosity:  The airport is now o-fficially names Ronald Reagan National Airport.  As much as I love the Gipper, I’ve never been able to make myself adopt this modification, which went into effect about, what, five years ago or so.) 

Anyhoo, musing on this pilot training question brought to mind another of my old favorite YouTubes:

A veritable flood of responses to my little challenge in the last post.  (Curiously, none of them were posted in the comments, but came in via the mailbag.  Go figure.)

Alas, there were no winning entries.  Free viagra? Irish lottery winner?  Facilitating transfers of vast sums of money from sub-Saharan African banks and governments?  I mean, come onIt’s almost as if you weren’t actually reading the original post!

Or something. 

Anyhoo, here are the correct answers:

* Grant Tinker, then head-honcho of NBC, used to come on Dave Letterman’s show in the early days (when he was funny) to do little promotional bits.  Tinker invariably called Dave “Tom.”  I always found this little bit of throwaway intensely amusing.

**A few folks correctly identified Helen Hunt’s character from the mid-90’s movie Twister.  I have always said that Hunt is the Thinking Man’s Babe.  (Got a problem with that?)

*** I’m surprised nobody recognized one of the signature understatements of Captain Mal Reynolds from Firefly.  One might aptly compare it to Clint Eastwood’s spaghetti-western signature, “Yeah.”  As he also said, “Well, the time of my not taking you seriously is certainly coming to a middle.”

**** Okay, this one was a bit more obscure, but it was a little running joke from the 3rd (and last) season of Arrested Development, easily one of teh funniest shows ever to appear on teevee.  (It started bubbling up after the actor Judge Reinhold appeared in an episode as a daytime teevee judge.  Don’t ask.)

*****I would have expected regular port-swillers to recognize the line as Stanley Kowalski’s from A Streetcar Named Desire.

******Okay, perhaps this one was impossible given the medium, but the trick here was that I was not thinking of Marlon Brando’s portrayal of Kowalski in the 1951 movie version of the play.  Rayther, I was thinking of Diane Keaton’s riff on Brando in the 1973 Woody Allen film Sleeper.

So there you have it.  As I say, we have no winners this time around.  Better luck next time!


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September 2009