Have you ever heard someone say, “He or she is just a natural pilot – it must be in their blood?” That has never been said about me.
Instead, they say, “Have you always been funny?”
I have the ability to make people laugh. Almost universally, the first thing that someone asks my wife Patty is, “How do you live with him?”
“It’s his father’s sense of humor,” she always responds. “He can’t help it.”
It appears that I was doomed at birth.
Dad was a pilot with a well-developed sense of humor. He flew P-51’s during WWII. Although never in combat, he used to say that due to his diligence, the Florida bases where he was stationed were never attacked. And growing up in Dallas, he often reminded us that he fought what he called the “Battle of the Baker Hotel.” Although we knew there was a downtown hotel by that name, no one in the family ever had the courage to ask what happened there.
Sometime in the 1970s the phone company allowed customers to have an unlisted number. But they required you to have a name attached to your number printed in the phonebook. So, Dad chose Ron Ailer. He knew it would appear with the last name first in the book – Ailer Ron.
Every time the phone rang with someone asking for “Mr. Ailer,” he knew it was a salesman.
He used to carry a small black and white photo in his wallet of two extremely ugly children. He would whip out the photo when someone asked about his children and regale in their expression of horror as they tried to say something nice about his awful-looking family.
Today, I carry a picture of two goats in my wallet and I call them my “kids.”
Sad, but true.
In the ‘40s, he ran a live wire off the coil of a Model A Ford and attached it to the steel springs on the rumble seat. He could flip a switch and shock the passengers at will.
Our next-door neighbor, Dean Wilson was of particular interest to dad. Dean was gullible. In the ‘70s, Dean purchased a new Chevy and was bragging to everyone about the incredible gas mileage he was achieving. Over 35 miles per gallon.
What Dean didn’t know was that each night Dad would sneak up to Dean’s driveway and add gas to his tank!
Stay with me on this story.
Four weeks later, Dad began siphoning gas out of the tank nightly. Dean was beside himself trying to figure out how his mileage was suddenly going to hell.
Flying a jet is a serious endeavor and leaves little room for humor. But I know a guy who has a sense of humor.
Zelda was my office manager during our Sabreliner days. In the ‘80s, it was customary to “initiate” employees on their first ride in the company jet. Prior to engine start one sunny morning, I asked Zelda to come up to the cockpit. “Zelda, we have a small problem,” I said. “One of the warning lights is lit on our annunciator panel. It’s probably not a big deal, but we are not exactly sure what it means. I think the owner’s manual is back in the cabin under your seat. Could you find it for us?”
You have never seen Zelda move so fast.
The rest of the passengers bit their lips, held their breath and finally laughed hysterically. They had all been through this before. Zelda, however, didn’t think it was very funny.
Until we hired the new guy.