Do you like being a pilot?
Yes, I love it. Ever since I was a small snotty-beaked chick I wanted to be a pilot. I particularly like it when we do a loop-the-loop, although once I did it when lunch was being served and Commander Winterbottom was mad about it. He’s the Chief Super Cabin Officer Steward. Air Vice-Marshall Singsong, the other cabin attendant wasn’t very pleased either, although she forgave me later.
What do you do on your day off?
I like to play the xylophone. I’m not very good at it, but it’s very interesting. I’ve just got a new one, actually. It’s made by Yams Ahoy and the tin bits you hit with the mallet thing are all different colours.
Was it expensive?
Yes it was, but I thought, you know, you have to keep your brain stimulated. And music’s so soothing. . . although other people don’t seem to think so quite as much. In fact, they usually leave the room - but that suits me fine as I just want to concentrate on hitting it.
Is your brain quite big then?
I don’t think so. Maybe it’s bigger than yours - but I don’t know. Anyway, that’s not what I meant...
What is the hardest part of your job?
Mmmm.... landing, probably. With airships, you have to watch that you don’t snag it when you land, and with the fairyplanes you have to hit the landing strip at the right angle and speed and make sure you don’t bounce too much..... steady......steady..... more throttle... down a bit.... down a bit more.... too much!..... that’s it.... nearly there... nearly... we’re down!....brakes.... brakes!.... more brakes!!.... Stop!...... phew, OK... Good job!
Are you allright, Captain?
Err... yes. I’m fine.
What is your greatest satisfaction?
My greatest satisfaction is training the next generation of pilots. Lieutenant Temples, my regular co-pilot was hopeless at first, but now he’s quite good at it.
What’s the strangest destination you’ve flown to?
Let me see. Well, it wasn’t scheduled, but once, on an Imperial Free Banana Airlines flight to the Chilly Peaks, we had to make an emergency stop when the airship’s altimeter went doolally. The only place to land was in a large nest full of big, soft white feathers. There was a large egg in the nest. The egg was nearly as big as our airship.
I consulted Commander Winterbottom about it: “This is the nest of the Giant Snow Buzzard. It is known to sit on its nest for days or even weeks on end without once flying off in search of food, and even then it will only leave the nest for a few minutes. . . So get us out of here quick, Captain!” I remember him shouting.
As soon as I had sorted out the altimeter we got out of there as fast as we could, before the bird could come back and sit on us.
Commander Winterbotton knows about birds then?
Yes. And snacks. He’s an expert. His knowledge and experience is invaluable. He can ascertain the provenance of a packet of crackers and fish heads simply by smelling it.
About the gold braid on the peak of your cap - that’s known as “scrambled egg”, isn’t it? Does that signify your rank as captain?
No, that’s actually real scrambled egg. It signifies a hurried breakfast.
© David Severn