Flight, starring Denzel Washington as alcoholic pilot Whip Whitaker has been receiving mostly rave reviews by critics. Pilots, however, have strongly objected to Washington’s performance. They claim his depiction is ham acting at it’s worst and it doesn’t even begin to capture the challenges of being a pilot with a drinking problem.
“They call his performance brave,” scoffed long time American Airlines pilot Buzzsaw Burtaph, downing a double gin & tonic as if it were a glass of water, “you want to see brave? Try landing a 747 at Dulles International on three hours’ sleep and six margaritas. That’s fucking brave!”
His co-pilot, Pistol Pawtinski, agreed. ”Yeah, if I hadn’t dropped acid right before the landing, I would have been freaking out!”
Pawtinski and Burtaph then both ate brownies they described as “just fucking browines, man! Lay off!” Then they apologized because they had an early flight and set off in search of a White Castle.
Machete Macktik, spokeperson for the International Pilot’s Unions, said that Flight sends a dangerous message. ”The film suggests that only a pilot who is drunk and on cocaine is capable of landing an airplane that is in a free fall. Our studies have shown that pilots who are on meth, crack, and heroin are equally capable of landing making the landing depicted in the film. In fact, we have found that even relatively mild drugs like mushrooms can increase landing efficiency.”
Gun Grissel, a 34 year veteran pilot with United, agrees. ”I’ve landed airplanes literally thousands of times and I can’t remember the last time I did it sober. If I wasn’t drunk enough to forget about all the shit that go wrong when you land an airplane, I’d freak the fuck out every time.”
Several well known researchers (none of whom were willing to be named in this article) have claimed that the staggering number of things that could go wrong when landing an aircraft would challenge the sobriety of all but the most mentally stable of pilots.
Macktick points out that most commercial pilots started in the military and due to the rigors of military life, “90% of ‘em are alcoholics before they ever leave the service.”
Recreational pilots, of course, have a different perspective.
“Commercial pilots are complete pussies,” says Pike Parnasus, who has logged over 10,000 hours in his Cessna 172. ”I’ve landed my plane stone sober every time. Sometimes I’m even fucking my girlfriend while I’m doing it.” Following the interview, he popped a Valium and taxied his plane onto the runway.
“Fuck that guy,” said Grissel,”you can fly a plane sober if the only life you have to worry about is your own. When you have hundreds of people whose lives are depending on you, you need something to make you forget how many kids will die if you fuck up. You can only screw so many flight attendants to make the pain go away.”
For his part, Denzel Washington has remained relatively silent on the controversy. ”I’m just playing a role in a film,” he said through a spokesperson. ”I’m not trying to suggest that I have any understanding of the difficulties real alcoholic pilots face.”
Patowski and Burtaph agree. After downing four Long Island Iced Teas each, the conceded that Washington’s performance was “pretty good” but Flight is obviously fiction. ”They say nobody could have landed a plane the way Washington’s character did,” laughs Burtaph, ” that is utter BS. I could totally land a plane the same way. Come on, Pistol! Let’s give it a try!”
With that, he went into the bathroom to “smoke one more doobie” and then headed off to his flight.