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by Dale Connelly, 10/6/00

Dc: This is DCR, it's not the news. Airlines are paying increased attention to the way pilots speak to their passengers. Within major airline companies, this has become a key issue. To find out what's going on in the cockpit these days, I boarded a plane operated by SwellAir and once we were on our way, I was invited up front!

(sfx: loud airplane interior, under)

Mills: Hi, welcome to SwellAir! I'm Captain Mills, your pilot.

Dc: Thanks for letting me come up here.

Gaffney: I'm First Officer Gaffney, your co-pilot.

Dc: Pleased to meet you. And ..?

Picknit: Stan Picknit, speechwriter.

Dc: Speechwriter?

Mills: Stan is from the corporate office.

Gaffney: He rides in the jump seat on every flight.

Stan: Please, Gaffney. Don't say "jump". If passengers hear the word "jump" floating out of the cockpit, what are they gonna think?

Mills: Stan is our language watchdog. He monitors our announcements.

Dc: Are you about to make one?

Mills: Yup. It's about time for our "cruising altitude, get up and move about the cabin but keep your belt fastened if you're in the seat" announcement.

Gaffney: Stan wrote that one. It's used throughout the industry.

Dc: Did you!

Mills: He's the Shakespeare of the commercial airways. He has a great "put your head between your knees" announcement...

Stan: Pete!

Mills: I'm just dying to give it...

Stan: Don't say that! Never say "dying," "die," "death," "dead" on an airplane. What if the mike was open!

Mills: (chuckle) Sorry. Sorry.

Gaffney: Intercom on!

Mills: (PA) Hello everyone from the flight deck. This is...

Picknit: (hissing) Drawl, Drawl!

Mills: Just a minute folks. (PA off) Huh?

Gaffney: Pete, you forgot the Drawl!

Mills: Ooops! Silly me. (PA) (drawl) Pardon me, folks. Just a little Yankee caught in my throat. On behalf of my co-pilot Capt. Gaffney and myself, Capt. Mills, and the whole crew, I want to wish you a comfortable flight all the way from here to our .. uh... final destination.

Picknit: Idiot! You said the "F" word.

Mills: (PA off) Ooops. Sorry.

Dc: He said the "F" word?

Gaffney: (to dc) Final. .

Picknit: That's just one of the words on the list.

Dc: What are some of the others?

Gaffney: Fall. Fail. Fire. But it's not just words that start with "f".

Mills: Impact. Crater. Clergy.

Picknit: Shhhh!

Gaffney: And then there are taboo weather words...

Mills: Thunderstorm. Fog. Typhoon. Tornado. Locusts.

Picknit: (stressed) Please... can we NOT talk like this in the aircraft?

Mills: All right, all right.

Picknit: Remember, drawl!

Mills: (PA) Right now, folks, we've got a pretty nice ride to... the place where we're heading... with just a little sideways maneuver to skirt a few thunder... uh, rain showers and dive under some really foggy... uh, visually opaque air I mean, and once we get down below the clouds we'll take a look around to see where the mountains are.

(sfx: muffled screaming from passengers)

Just kidding, folks. I know exactly where those mountains are, don't fret.

Picknit: Enough! Can't anybody do this right?

Gaffney: (PA) Hello passengers, this is First Officer Gaffney, the co-pilot.

(sfx: muffled screaming from passengers fades down)

You'll have to forgive Captian Mills. He's a very good pilot but not much of a comedian. His weather forecast may have sounded alarming, but really there's nothing to be concerned about. We've encountered some bumpy air, so we're going to turn the seat belt light back on. We are expecting a little bit of drizzly air and some cloudy air along the way, and along our path there is also one little spot of circular funnel shaped air.

(sfx: muffled screaming from passengers)

But don't worry... we're too high to be hit by any barns or flying cows or anything.

Picknit: What are you doing? Comfort them!

Gaffney: Just kidding, just kidding. Everything is fine.

(sfx: muffled screaming from passengers fades down)

We are moving right along, in fact. And we'll be on the ground in no time.

(sfx: more muffled screaming from passengers)
(PA off)

Picknit: No, no, no! Don't say we'll be "on the ground"! Say "landing!" We'll be landing. Gently. Say it!

Gaffney: (PA on) Uh... correction... our landing... we'll be gently landing, softly and smoothly when we come down... uh descend, later. So... relax!

(PA off)
(Picknit, Mills, Gaffney breathless, agitated)

Dc: This is hard work. And then on top of all that you have to fly the plane!

Mills: Oh no we don't.

Gaffney: The plane flies itself. It's on automatic.

Picknit: We've got enough trouble just getting the announcements right.

Dc: Well thanks for a look inside the cockpit.

Mills: Say, when you get back there, tell the other passengers not to go into a tailspin over this... ha ha ha!

Picknit: Don't listen to him. Just keep quiet.

Dc: Thanks. Captain Pete Mills and Co-Pilot Jeanette Gaffney fly for Swellair.


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