Airline Faith
February 9, 2004 10:07 AM   Subscribe

AA pilot asks for faith of his passengers. Air flight can be intimidating as it is - especially when your pilot has a nagging desire to introduce you to God.
posted by lightweight (90 comments total)

 
i suppose airline pilot jobs are so boring, this one must've felt like he needed to liven things up?
posted by titboy at 10:10 AM on February 9, 2004


What a gonad.
posted by drstrangelove at 10:12 AM on February 9, 2004


Flight attendants notified ground control.
Why turn this into Christians are evil?
posted by thomcatspike at 10:15 AM on February 9, 2004


Alarming, to be sure. I wouldn't want to be on a flight where a pilot had such poor judgment.
posted by agregoli at 10:15 AM on February 9, 2004


...Or dumb for their beleifs?
posted by thomcatspike at 10:16 AM on February 9, 2004


No one said that, thomcatspike.
posted by agregoli at 10:17 AM on February 9, 2004


I rely on God.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:17 AM on February 9, 2004


The airliners.net forum has some interesting views from pilots and frequent fliers.
posted by letitrain at 10:18 AM on February 9, 2004


He should have double checked with the Wise One on the whole "inflight ministry" idea.
posted by will at 10:19 AM on February 9, 2004


He went on to say that "everyone who doesn't have their hand raised is crazy", passenger Amanda Nelligan told CBS news.

His co-pilot is invisible, and I am the crazy one?
posted by thirteen at 10:19 AM on February 9, 2004


is anyone here a wahibbist ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 10:20 AM on February 9, 2004


I think Negativland said it best.
posted by Outlawyr at 10:21 AM on February 9, 2004


Why turn this into Christians are evil?

Nobody did.
posted by callmejay at 10:23 AM on February 9, 2004


<insert outrage here>

Whatever; inappropriate conduct: suspend/fine/re-train|combination of aforementioned. Zzzz.
posted by Blue Stone at 10:24 AM on February 9, 2004


your snoring is waking me up.
posted by sgt.serenity at 10:26 AM on February 9, 2004


Once, when the sewer line was backing up into my shower, I was "witnessed" to by folks that seemed to think I was paying them for their spiritual guidance. It's the same with the pilot- I'm happy that you have found fulfillment in your personal life, but I really don't care. I'm paying you to fly the plane, so keep your hands on the yoke and beliefs to yourself.


Fundies, of all stripes, seem ignorant of the fact that their tireless evangelizing is making them more enemies than friends.
posted by drstrangelove at 10:27 AM on February 9, 2004


I've been in the same position.

Can't remember the company (Probably Canada 3000, not sure), but they INSISTED on people donating their lose foreign change to some cause or other (feed the homeless, clote the sick, whatever the whine of the week was). They even played videos to convince people. Then they held a bucket out for people to drop it in at the end of the flight. And there's the donation cards they passed out, etc, etc.

I sent in a complaint, saying I wouldn't donate to a charity that abuses a captive audience like that. It's the sort of thing I expect from a scientologist, not a trained crew of airline pilots. Wouldn't you believe it, a steward on the flight (I dropped it in a convenient suggestion box or something, it was a while ago) decides to try to warm me up to their way of thinking.

"It goes to a good cause", he tells me. "We're doing this out of the goodness of our hearts. We're not paid to do it, and we aren't instructed by the company to do it."

You know what? I couldn't care less if donating it would build a million homes and feed starving children for life. It's the principle of it. Needless to say the conversation didn't last long. :-)

I can assure you, what this pilot did probably put people off God for life.
posted by shepd at 10:27 AM on February 9, 2004


can the last person to fall asleep during this thread turn out the light ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 10:29 AM on February 9, 2004


If 9/11 taught us anything, it's that air travel and religious fanatacism are a bad mix.
posted by jonmc at 10:30 AM on February 9, 2004


Why turn this into Christians are evil?

I don't know.
You should maybe explain why you did.

Seriously, I would've had the worst flight after that. You don't want to be made to question the state of mind of your pilot.
posted by Busithoth at 10:30 AM on February 9, 2004


nominations for which metafilter members we'd like to have as airline pilots start here.
posted by sgt.serenity at 10:35 AM on February 9, 2004


Oooo weeeeee. I hope this guy gets fired fired fired. Y'all are right: first and foremost among the personal qualities I expect in those entrusted with ~300 lives is good judgement.

Fired fired fired.
posted by adamgreenfield at 10:36 AM on February 9, 2004


I nominate sgt.serenity.
posted by drstrangelove at 10:38 AM on February 9, 2004


His co-pilot is invisible, and I am the crazy one?

God is my Co-Pilot?
posted by 327.ca at 10:39 AM on February 9, 2004


If you vote for me, I promise to fart into the microphone, and to keep the cockpit door closed for your flying and breathing pleasure.
posted by Outlawyr at 10:39 AM on February 9, 2004


I'm just wondering about the outcry if he had asked for Muslims to raise their hands and tell non-Muslims about their religion.

Also - religious aspect aside, he called the non-Christians CRAZY. I don't pay to be berated on my flights.
posted by agregoli at 10:40 AM on February 9, 2004


kirkaracha puts everything into perspective. Damn. Fired is just the start of it. If he were a Muslim pilot and pulled this shit his ass would be in the hands of the FBI. This is fucked up behavior in general, but how can someone not comprehend the sensitivity your passengers have now with airline security?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:42 AM on February 9, 2004


Make no mistake - it is a mind disease that continues to spread. What can be done? Even the brightest pilots succumb.
posted by the fire you left me at 10:46 AM on February 9, 2004



His co-pilot is invisible, and I am the crazy one?

God is my Co-Pilot?


That is what I was going for. Too oblique?
posted by thirteen at 10:46 AM on February 9, 2004


Reminds me of Robin Williams as the captain of an airliner:

"Good afternoon, folks, this is the captain speaking. Just thought you should know...my wife left me this morning and I'm not feeling too good about it. Why don't we crank this sucker up and see what happens?"

Jebus, I'd be scrambling for the emergency exit after hearing an announcement like this one. You do not want to question the pilot's state of mind. You want your pilot to sound as cool as an Arctic cucumber. You want to hear that voice that can tell you, reassuringly, that even though all four engines have flamed out, the plane's about to be intercepted by a Star Destroyer, the only movie on the plane is "Pauly Shore's To Kill A Mockingbird" and there are no more lemon-soaked paper napkins on board, hey, it'll be a little rough but we'll be okay.

But this guy? I'd start thinking, "This guy sounds like a fundie, and he's probably more interested in what happens after he's dead than in what goes on now. Fuck this, I'm outta here."

On preview, what Busithoth said.
posted by RakDaddy at 10:47 AM on February 9, 2004


Also - religious aspect aside, he called the non-Christians CRAZY. I don't pay to be berated on my flights.
What this thread should be linked to.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:49 AM on February 9, 2004


That "doesgodexist" page is a hoot!
posted by mr_roboto at 10:50 AM on February 9, 2004


I think we are free to discuss all aspects of the problem, thomcatspike - and as was said earlier, you have been the only person so far to suggest attacking Christians.
posted by agregoli at 10:50 AM on February 9, 2004


Come on people. This isn't any worse than the idea of combining the 2 great Sunday shows - Church and Fishing shows into one 30 minute show.

Its a natural segue to talk about the protective qualities of your Stern(tm) flotation device then say 'that reminders me of my relationship with Jesus'.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:51 AM on February 9, 2004


God was my copilot but we crashed in the mountains and I had to eat him.
posted by michaelonfs at 10:52 AM on February 9, 2004


I think this is really some hilarious performance piece.
posted by xmutex at 10:52 AM on February 9, 2004


Come on people. This isn't any worse than the idea of combining the 2 great Sunday shows - Church and Fishing shows into one 30 minute show.

Dude...what channels do you get?
posted by RakDaddy at 10:53 AM on February 9, 2004


That is a really interesting article, kirk. Geez, some frightening stuff there. You can almost feel the frustration.
posted by dazed_one at 10:54 AM on February 9, 2004


Um... I think you need to listen to that song again Outlawyr, before you make Negativland out to be like some 14 year old SomethingAwful poster.
posted by badstone at 10:54 AM on February 9, 2004


And yeah, that doesgodexist page totally rocks. A philosophy TA could dig up every example of how to do things wrong they would ever need from there.
posted by badstone at 10:57 AM on February 9, 2004


The problem is that even someone who raised their hand would, in the post 9-11 age, interpret the pilot's call to proselytize as "Convert the unbelievers, quickly! In a few moments, this baby's gonna become a wide-bodied instrument of the Lord's vengeance! Ramming speed!"

What we really need is a thread in which people come up with what the pilot would've said had he been of another religion. Say, Buddhism: "Oh, don't give me those looks. You weren't scared the last time we did this..."
posted by AccordionGuy at 11:04 AM on February 9, 2004


When the steep glide began, people rose, fell, collided, swam in their seats. Then the serious screaming and moaning began. Almost immediately a voice from the flight deck was heard on the intercom: 'We're falling out of the sky! We're going down! We're a silver gleaming death machine!'

This outburst struck the passengers as an all but total breakdown of authority, competence and command presence and it brought on a round of fresh and desperate wailing. Then there was a second male voice from the flight deck, this one remarkably calm and precise, making the passengers believe there was someone in charge after all, an element of hope:

"This is American 2-1-3 to the cockpit voice recorder. Now we know what it's like. It's worse than we'd ever imagined. They didn't prepare us for this at the death simulator in Denver. Our fear is pure, so totally stripped of distractions and pressures as to be a form of transcendental meditation. In less than 3 minutes we will touch down, so to speak. They will find our bodies in some field, strewn about in the grisly attitudes of death. I love you, Lance."

This time there was a brief pause before the mass wailing commenced. Lance? What kind of people were in control of this aircraft? The crying took on a bitter and disillusioned tone.


Don DeLillo, "White Noise"
posted by stonerose at 11:06 AM on February 9, 2004


This was pretty funny, from the discussion that letitrain linked:

'Now we ask you to locate the Christian nearest you. In some cases, the nearest Christian may be behind you.'
posted by jennyb at 11:07 AM on February 9, 2004


"Oh, don't give me those looks. You weren't scared the last time we did this..."

LOL
posted by adamgreenfield at 11:07 AM on February 9, 2004


Outlawyr - you know that the link that you provided tries to install about 5 different pieces of spyware, right?
posted by bshort at 11:09 AM on February 9, 2004


Could be worse. You could get on the plane and hear the following as you roll down the tarmac:

"Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I'm your pilot, Hubert Q. Hamstersqueezer, and with me in the cockpit is copilot Deltoid M. Vogon. We'll be taking off at sunset. That is, sunset for the Clintons. It'll also be midday for Socrates, midnight for Einstein, and daybreak for Jesus, as the 4-cornered nature of time tells us. You are all cubeless and educated stupid and God is cornered as a queer. Have a good flight, and enjoy nature's Harmonic Time Cube."

Or even just "Have you ever heard of Dianetics? Our flight attendants will be passing out e-meters soon so you too can experience the joys of being Clear."

Still, even both of those might be better than being harangued at greeeeaaaaat leeeennnnnggggtttthhh by a hardcore Objectivist pilot who insists on reading all of the 1374129874819274128 page John Galt speech to you and then accuses the lot of you of being whim-worshipping muscle mystics who are anti-life and anti-mind.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:09 AM on February 9, 2004


Alex, I'll take "who is John Galt?" for $200.
posted by shoepal at 11:20 AM on February 9, 2004


That is what I was going for. Too oblique?

Only for me. I'm running at about half-speed today.

Actually, I was wondering what the hell was up with the visible co-pilot. Is there some provision that allows the co-pilot to whack the pilot over the head and tie him up in a washroom if he starts crazy-talking like this?
posted by 327.ca at 11:29 AM on February 9, 2004


Just tenderizing the good folks for the upcoming launch of ...

Faith Airlines? Christian Air? God Airways?

/Holy cow!
posted by magullo at 11:29 AM on February 9, 2004


I got you, thirteen.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 11:30 AM on February 9, 2004


" Um... I think you need to listen to that song again Outlawyr, before you make Negativland out to be like some 14 year old SomethingAwful poster"

What's a SomethingAwful poster? And thanks, I think I've listenend to the song enough. As for the link, it didn't do me any harm. Set pop-up stopper to kill and surf in safety.
posted by Outlawyr at 11:42 AM on February 9, 2004


A Jehovah's Witness buzzed up to our apartment over the weekend, and when we weren't home, proceeded to leave a Bible verse on our answering machine. (The door buzzer rings our phone.) That's just intrusive. As was this.
posted by gottabefunky at 11:46 AM on February 9, 2004


I bet JesusAir has some tasty crackers.
posted by bondcliff at 11:51 AM on February 9, 2004


wow, now I'm scared of flying. That airlines.net link made it worse too.
posted by dabitch at 11:58 AM on February 9, 2004


The door buzzer rings our phone

what model does this?
does the ring differ from normal incoming calls?

I love when JW come to the door and I'm home.
I had a couple friends who were brought up in JW homes, and they showed me that you can really convince them that you're the devil, provided you're up for the antics.
posted by Busithoth at 11:58 AM on February 9, 2004


If I had been on the plane, I would have wanted to use the airphone and try to get an F-16 escort. But I probably wouldn't have done such a thing because I wouldn't have trusted the authorities to arrest the right person. They would have come after me, not the pilot.
posted by PrinceValium at 12:01 PM on February 9, 2004


I got you, thirteen

LittleMissCranky, he is a very bold fellow.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:04 PM on February 9, 2004


Damn, stonerose beat me to the DeLillo quote.

I would like to ask that pilot, "do you know how many timezones there are in the Soviet Union? Eleven. E-lev-en."

*makes mental note to pick finally replace Negativland vinyl with CDs one of these days....*
posted by scody at 12:11 PM on February 9, 2004


Another hilarious story about pilots bringing religion into the cockpit.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:23 PM on February 9, 2004


armitage, that's the same link kirkaracha provided above.
posted by clever sheep at 12:26 PM on February 9, 2004


armitage, that's the same link kirkaracha provided above.

So it is, my apologies.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:29 PM on February 9, 2004


The door buzzer rings our phone

I lived in an apartment building a decade ago where the bastard landlord installed one of those entry systems. Kept kicking me off my modem connection. Absolutely hated it.

Off topic, but does it really matter at this point?
posted by gimonca at 12:46 PM on February 9, 2004


If you're offended by this pilot's actions, be sure you do something about it and say so.
posted by fraying at 12:56 PM on February 9, 2004


scody: Best. Comeback. Evar.

My favorite quote from the airliners.net discussion: "Please return your Christian to its original upright position."
posted by bedhead at 1:09 PM on February 9, 2004


I have to agree with AccordianGuy, but on a more serious level. I wonder what would've happened if this pilot had been Muslim, and had instructed the other Islamic worshippers on the plane to raise their hands? I bet passengers would've been a LOT more panicky. More likely, I bet the reaction would have involved grounding the flight and removing the pilot, probably for later questioning by federal officials. We've stopped flights for MUCH less, after all.

I also seriously doubt Tim Wagner would've uttered something as mild as "It falls along the lines of a personal level of sharing that may not be appropriate for one of our employees to do while on the job."

I am forced to agree with something I've heard said - no special rights for Christians. At the best, this guy should be seriously reprimanded. At the worst, this guy should be fired.
posted by FormlessOne at 1:13 PM on February 9, 2004


Have you folk not heard of the aerodynamic properties of faith? It's called a wing and a prayer. Now if only the FAA could get funding as a faith based initiative.
posted by srboisvert at 1:25 PM on February 9, 2004


It's sad that this is just another salvo in the Christian culture war.
posted by Bag Man at 1:26 PM on February 9, 2004


It's not, despite repeated, misplaced attempts to make it appear so. As most of us have pointed out, it's about responsibility, maturity, judgement, and professionalism.
posted by adamgreenfield at 1:40 PM on February 9, 2004


Hmmm lets see here.. a christian marginalizing non-christians.. someone wake me when something new happens.
posted by MrLint at 1:59 PM on February 9, 2004


The only thing surprising about this to me is that there are any people that defend his actions.

It can't be stressed enough: if he had substituted the word Muslim for Christian it would have been a national security crisis.

And the *VERY* people now defending him would be the ones screaming the loudest for his removal.

Whereas other more reasonable people would call for his removal either way.

Is it really that hard to see the difference???????
posted by Ynoxas at 2:13 PM on February 9, 2004


"AA pilot asks for faith of his passengers."

The last time that much faith was in a cockpit box cutters were used...
posted by wfrgms at 2:31 PM on February 9, 2004


I see it as one person showing a clear lack of judgement and that makes him unsuitable pilot status. I don't care what he believes in, but I do care that he doesn't know enough to keep his insults to himself. I won't feel safe flying on any airline that continues to employ people of such poor judgement.
posted by john at 2:35 PM on February 9, 2004


Lots of weird stuff happening in the world right now.
posted by dash_slot- at 3:07 PM on February 9, 2004


if I was on a place with some crazy religious jerk and he came over the intercom and said, "y'all better start talking about god," my first thought would be: "he said that because we are about to crash. time to panic."

what a stupid guy.
posted by mcsweetie at 3:35 PM on February 9, 2004


Maybe the pilot found this funny Delta ghetto parody commercial (WAV,+-800K, not safe for humorless works) and tought " hey if it works for internet it can work for my cult as well !".

I say relax, he's probably a good faith believer and if you disagree here's a courtesy parachute.
posted by elpapacito at 3:43 PM on February 9, 2004


geez. I would have been seriously creeped out as well, even if I was a christian, unless I was an evangelical psycho. The implication I would have read would have been better get with Jesus soon, because I'm going to crash this plane...
posted by delmoi at 4:20 PM on February 9, 2004


Quick! Perform the special ritual to appease the invisible man in the sky!
posted by spazzm at 4:42 PM on February 9, 2004


"Muslim question alarms flight
Terrified passengers tried to call relatives on their mobile phones

An American Airlines pilot terrified passengers on his flight when he asked Muslims to identify themselves and went on to call non-Muslims "crazy".

Some passengers on the flight from Los Angeles to New York were so worried they tried to call relatives on their mobile phones.

The pilot, whose name was not released, asked Muslims on Friday's flight to raise their hands.

He then suggested non-Muslims talk to the Muslims about their faith.

He went on to say that "everyone who doesn't have their hand raised is crazy", passenger Amanda Nelligan told CBS news."
posted by spazzm at 4:49 PM on February 9, 2004


Having grown up listening to World War Two-era music, what I flashed on was "Comin' In on a Wing and a Prayer."
posted by alumshubby at 5:14 PM on February 9, 2004


I think it would be interesting if someday someone counted how many Metafilter +5 Threads of Outrage that were started by a news story about one person acting like an idiot.
posted by Cyrano at 5:15 PM on February 9, 2004


But this guy? I'd start thinking, "This guy sounds like a fundie, and he's probably more interested in what happens after he's dead than in what goes on now. Fuck this, I'm outta here."

Speaking as a person who believes there well may be a God and afterlife and has, in fact, even brought the topic up with strangers on an airplane, I'd think exactly the same thing.
posted by namespan at 10:12 PM on February 9, 2004


I'm still astounded that people actually pay enough attention to the pre-flight talk to have caught this.
posted by piper28 at 10:34 PM on February 9, 2004


This is why I exclusively fly HootersAir these days.
posted by Dagobert at 11:02 PM on February 9, 2004


'Your Captain says: "Put your head on your knees."

Your Captain says: "Put your head on your hands."

Captain says: "Put your hands on your head.
Put your hands on your hips. Heh heh.
This is your Captain-and we are going down.
We are all going down, together."

And I said: "Uh oh. This is gonna be some day."

[Standby. This is the time. And this is the record of the time.
This is the time. And this is the record of the time.]

"Uh-this is your Captain again. You know, I've got a funny feeling I've seen this all before. Why? Cause I'm a caveman.
Why? Cause I've got eyes in the back of my head. Why? It's the heat. Standby."

[This is the time. And this is the record of the time.
This is the time. And this is the record of the time.]

"Put your hands over your eyes. Jump out of the plane.
There is no pilot. You are not alone. Standby."

[This is the time. And this is the record of the time.
This is the time. And this is the record of the time.] '

xmutex summed up my feelings - "This is a really hilarious performance piece." Laurie Anderson wrote a version of this performance art piece in the lyrics to her song ( above ) "From the Air", in "Big Science" back in 1982. But her form of surrealism is more lyrically beautifull, and certainly much less grating, than was the proselytizing Christian airplane pilot.

If only he had asked the Christians on the plane to perform the "secret handshake" with each other, and led them in a little singalong :

"We are Christians, you and me,
We're one in Christ, so happy and free,
And one day, from hell, you'll see
Us up in Heaven !"
[ execute special Christian high-five ]
"Our hearts are pure, Our minds are free,
We never shit, just poo and pee,
And after the Apocalypse, We'll be
With God, in Heaven !"
[ execute special Christian high five, with emphasis, then repeat first verse ]


Now this would have changed everything. It would have redeemed that Christian on-site performance art. But as it stands (taking some issue with xmutex), it was merely third rate and in gratuitiously bad taste - sort of like a poorly done and especially bloody crucifixion statue with a Christ whose eyes are excessively huge and bug-eyed.

Oh well. Can't win 'em all.

Yodelayheehoo.
posted by troutfishing at 7:19 AM on February 10, 2004


Oh yeah - I forgot to mention : That song above is titled "The Christian Song". It can be adapted, with my express permission, to many different melodies. The lyrics, too, can be adapted as necessary as long as credit is given to the original author - me.

Sing away.
posted by troutfishing at 7:23 AM on February 10, 2004


You know, given past experiences, if Jesus really was anywhere on that airplane I don't think he'd want to be near a Pilot.

Thank you, I'll be here all week.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:16 AM on February 10, 2004 [1 favorite]


If 9/11 taught us anything, it's that air travel and religious fanatacism are a bad mix.

Heh, nice.
posted by rushmc at 10:19 AM on February 10, 2004


Just a brief update:

The Advocate has published an interview with the pilot, and ChristianityToday.com has reported on the Advocate's reporting.

(Courtesy of Romenesko's coverage of reporter's reporting...)

(So, not quite a total nutjob, but he's still clearly in the wrong.)
posted by GhostintheMachine at 12:43 PM on February 10, 2004


Do you like gladiator movies, Timmy?
posted by yhbc at 6:04 PM on February 16, 2004


"I just got back from a mission," he said. "You know, they say about half of Americans are Christians. I'd just like the Christians on board to raise their hands." After a pause, he went on.

"I want everyone else on board to look around at how crazy these people are," he said jokingly. "Make good use of [the flight], or you can read your paper and watch the movie


And there are some here think the this was not a salvo in the Christian Culture War. They have the right to practice there religion, but they have no right to force it on anyone in such a way without consent.
posted by Bag Man at 11:49 AM on February 18, 2004


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