Fake News: Pilots re-exam results released

Last October, a pair of Northwest Airlines pilots overshot their destination, flying more than 100 miles past their intended target of Minneapolis. After having their licenses revoked by the FAA for operating a plane in an “extremely reckless” fashion, Capt. Tim Cheney and First Officer Richard Cole found themselves grounded.

Earlier this week, however, a final disposition of the case was made that will allow the two veteran pilots the chance to resume their careers as early as this summer. All they’ll have to do to become recertified as pilots is to go through a basic training program, including passing an exam on the operation of a commercial airliner.

Sources close to the FAA have obtained a copy of the multiple-choice exam as taken by Capt. Cheney, portions of which are printed below, complete with Cheney’s answers.

1. Hello? Hello? Is anybody there?
A. Nobody up here but us monkeys.
B. Sorry, we stepped out for a minute.
C. [no response]
D. All of the above √

2. So did you ever get your new flight schedules figured out?
A. No, too distracted by yammering flight controllers.
B. No, laptops crashed but fortunately plane didn’t.
C. No, computers are just too damn complicated. √
D. Yeah, turns out we’re grounded for a year.

3. Do you still claim you weren’t asleep at the wheel?
A. That is our official story.
B. We stand by our earlier testimony.
C. Our account of the events remains unchanged.
D. Zzzzzz. √

4. What would’ve happened if the flight attendant didn’t eventually bang on your door?
A. We would’ve caught our error and corrected it easily.
B. Our instruments would warn us if we ran low on fuel.
C. We’d be heroes for landing our plane safely on Lake Michigan. √
D. European vacation!

5. Do you feel like the flight was ever in danger?
A. We are professional pilots … so, yeah, maybe a little.
B. Only while we were in the air. √
C. And maybe while taking off.
D. We would’ve landed eventually, one way or the other.

6. Which button on your jetliner’s controls answers a radio call?
A. The one that says “eject”. √
B. The one that says “abort”.
C. The one that says “bring the pilots another round of drinks”.
D. This one here on my shirt.

7. What time is it right now?
A. 9:30 a.m.
B. 1:15 p.m. √
C. 4:45 p.m.
D. The year 2525

8. What does it mean when the ground sensor says “pull up … pull up”?
A. Make sure your belt is tight enough.
B. Check your socks.
C. Time for big-boy underpants. √
D. Check your laptop.

9. What will you do in the future to make sure this doesn’t ever happen again?
A. Pay closer attention to the equipment.
B. Land at a different airport than planned and pretend like nothing happened. √
C. I’d rather fly into a mountain than go through that media firestorm again.
D. Give up flying.

10. Did special protection by the pilots’ union get you more lenient treatment than you’d otherwise expect?
A. Yes.
B. Yes.
C. Hell yes. √
D. Damn right.


That is the end of the exam. Put your pencil down and return test to examiner.


Cheney: I don’t understand this question. Is this an essay question? Something about “space below”? Are you asking how much space should be below an airplane? Well, generally, it depends on where you are in your flight plan, because as you’re taking off, this is a number that will gradually increase as your plane climbs higher into the air, then later on you tend to kind of level off and maintain a consistent altitude and then … hey — check out this new flight simulator game I got installed on my laptop!


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