They say that flying is hours of boredom interspersed with moments of shear terror. That really bugs me, because it's so untrue. It's a few hours of boredom interspersed with a few moments of pure comedy.
When I was a First Officer at Northwest Airlink, I was in my seat getting ready to start a day of flying. Larry Wooden was the Captain and Michelle Boyer was the Flight Attendant. I had brought a large, black rubber worm from my fishing box at home. Now on these flights we carried coffee in a pair of big thermos bottles. So I carefully laid the worm on the rim of the thermos when Michelle wasn't looking. Later, she was in the galley and we were in the cockpit doing our thing. "Hey Larry, did you hear what they found on the plane this morning? A small black snake."
"Really? I've heard they can crawl up inside, through the wheel well and the air conditioning ducts." (Absolute BS. No such thing)
"Yeah, probably did. They're not poisonous I hear, but they are nasty little things."
Now Michelle isn't a part of this conversation, but she's listening intently.
"Oh yes. They bite you like crazy, but not poisonous. Nasty buggers."
A few minutes go by. Then I said, "Hey Michelle? Can I get a cup of coffee please?" She said sure and got a cup and grabbed the thermos. As the "snake" fell off the thermos and landed on her hands she let out a blood-curdling scream, dropped the thermos, inspected the rubber worm, then came up and punched Larry hard in the arm. Perfect! Next I put it on the liquor tray and went outside to preflight the airplane. As I inspected the right wing I hear a scream from inside the airplane. Everyone on the ramp turns and looks. Susan comes storming down the stairs (she was doing galley servicing that day), looked under the plane at me and yells, "You're dead meat, Reed!"
Another day I brought my water pistol (unheard of today). We had this little six inch hatch by the Captain where we could pass paperwork out to the ground people below. So I had the hatch open on this clear, sunny afternoon when a girl on the ramp came by. Squirt! She flinched, wiped it, looked up at the sky confused, then walked on. Another girl (most of our rampers were young girls) walked by. Squirt! Again, a wipe, a confused look upward. We did this all day. Later, a new girl began cleaning our window. All the newbies cleaned windows, and they all had to get initiated. So as a group of passengers is about to walk in front of us headed to another airplane, I reach out the small hatch, grabbed her shorts and yanked them down over one cheek. She jumped and swatted at my arm, and several passengers were smiling and giving me a thumbs up.
We had this one ramper, this guy that hated being outside in the winter. So he was always reporting pilots for the smallest infractions, hoping to get promoted to a job inside. When we landed we were encouraged to cycle the deicing boots and break up the ice so that later when they deiced it, it would come off easier. We turned off the runway with ice on our wings. I noticed from afar that this goober was going to be parking us. A Light bulb went off. We taxied in, shutting down the left engine as we did. He signaled us into the parking spot. When we stopped I set the brake, reached up and turned on the high pressure bleed air. This goober predictably put the wheel chocks in place on the nose tires, then started to walk back to unload bags. I put my finger on the manual boot inflation button, looked over my left shoulder, and when he got to the wing I pushed the button. The boot inflated and a ton of ice fell off, knocking him hard to the ground. Oh crap! I though maybe I'd really hurt him, but we were too busy stifling our laughter and trying not to be seen. Later he said to me that he'd been hit by ice falling off my plane. "Yea, you gotta watch that. It'll do that sometimes."
In International Falls they had a station manager that everyone hated. She also hated the job in I-Falls and was always writing pilots up for minor infractions, hoping to get promoted to a better station. That was how the promotion system worked at Airlink. So I'm pulling into the ramp one night and it's cold and the ground is covered in slush and deicing fluid and I saw my chance. I came up to her at a good clip, then mashed the props into max reverse. Instantly she was blasted with a big cloud of slush and deicing fluid, soaking her from head to toe. Later I explained that when I hit the brakes, nothing happened, so I had to use reverse to get stopped. Mess with us, will ya?
You know those little packets of condiments you get at the fast food place? Mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise. I used to take those and put one under the front of the nosewheel. Then when we were being waved out of our parking spot, we'd roll over it and shoot this glop of white creamy goo at the ramper. Only got someone once, but it was worth the wait.
Larry and I went to the supermarket after work one day to get some food for a barbeque. We were both still in uniform, with our long black rain coats on but no hat. No gold stripes visible either. The young cashier eyed us both, then finally asked "Do you guys work for the government or something?" Without missing a beat I replied, "Yes ma'am. We work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation." "Wow," she replied, "The FBI! Cool! Do you carry guns?" "Yes ma'am, regulation." "Wow." Larry just stood there, looking straight ahead, all serious. Outside he says "FBI, huh?"
Fast Eddie had a thing for Continental. He hated them. It was a union thing. If we were coming in to land and Continental checked on behind us, he'd immediately slow to our minimum speed, about 110 knots. Now its almost certain that a Continental jet can't get that slow and every time Fast Eddie did that, Continental would end up having to go around. Every time.
One Sunday it was pouring rain and we were the last plane to leave MSP. Naturally, we were at the end of the parking line so it meant a long, long walk for the passengers in the rain. So I told the ramper I'd start up, pull close to the door, then they could board them five at a time and no one would get very wet. Great idea! So I tucked it in as close as I could to the gate. As they are boarding the passengers, the First Officer says "You know, we're pretty close to this jetway. You gonna be able to get out?" Well shoot, he was right. Didn't look good. So I got the ramper up to the cockpit and explained that I would back up ten feet so I could get out. We reviewed the signals and then we prepared to do it. The First Officer remarked "You know, we're not supposed to be backing up." I said "I know, but it's Sunday, nobody is here, and we just need to back up a little bit."
Meanwhile, inside the office the Chief Pilot had dropped in on this rainy Sunday to check up on things briefly. He was only there a couple of minutes, but while he was there he heard this roar of engines, looks outside, and there's Dave Reed backing up.
The next day he called me up at home, said he'd seen me backing up. "You're not authorized to back up, you know," he said sternly. Drat! So I came right back with "Well what about that big speech you gave us the other day, about doing whatever it takes to get the job done?" and he said "Well yeah, but I didn't mean to back up!" I said I wouldn't do it again and he let it go at that. Later, in Hibbing, she parked us right behind a Jetstream at the gate. I asked "What's wrong with him?" She said "Oh, he's broke." "Well, how am I supposed to get out then?" She looked out at the airplane kinda dumbfounded, and yep, I ended up backing up to get out. No Chief Pilot saw it though. Whatever it takes to get the job done. We did lots of crazy things. Still do in fact. It's a pilot thing.