- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
FIGHT FIERCELY, ETC.
PLENTY OF SWIFT
Commercial airline pilots have increasingly of late taken to "setting records." Frankly, this is not a sport we applaud, but we must admit that some travelers relish it. Indeed there were gasps and murmurs of joy and excitement a week or so ago when Captain W. J. (Smokey) Callahan of American Airlines announced to his captive audience on Flight 314, after the doors were securely fastened: "Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. In fact, it's a very special good morning. The sky is clear, the wind should reach up to 80 knots and, folks, we're going to try to set the speed record from Chicago to New York." (Applause and an enthusiastic buzz. The few mutterers were dismissed as party-poopers.)
Captain Callahan, who looks the way a flier is supposed to look (clear-eyed, graying at the temples, a touch of jauntiness in an otherwise reliable, handsome face), does a very good imitation of pilot imitating Shelley Berman imitating pilot, and he is in the forefront of the new breed of athletic airmen. "The record we [note use of first-person plural] have to break is one hour 10 minutes and 23 seconds. I know, because I [note return to first person singular] happen to hold it." Airborne, Captain Callahan continued to keep the passengers informed on weather, winds, altitude, best altitude, Mach, speed of sound and the true potential of the Boeing 727. He heightened the drama as the plane came screeching east. "Well, win, lose or draw," he said, over Allentown, Pa., "you'll know you've been in a close one." He skimmed over New Jersey, flicked past the Hudson River and the Empire State Building and, seconds later, touched down at LaGuardia Airport. "A new record!" he yelled into the P.A. The passengers cheered lustily. The take-off-touchdown time: One hour nine minutes 10 seconds.
Captain Callahan came to the door of the cockpit to accept congratulations. "Sorry it had to be a meal flight," he told the stewardesses. Several of the passengers told him how proud they were of him, and one, who otherwise seemed quite intelligent, grabbed the captain's hand, shook it mightily and cried: "This is the biggest thrill I've had in years!"
Because certain travelers obviously like this sort of competition, whereas others prefer ground-based athletic participation, we suggest that airlines announce in advance if a flight is to be a time trial. We also suggest that they notify their ground crews. After landing, passengers on the record-breaking flight waited 22 minutes and 14 seconds for their luggage.