Terrorist Hijacking of Pacifica 762 SQUAWK 7500 1004 Central Standard Time

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Pacifica Seven Sixty-Two reached 18,000 feet and leveled off.

The ride was smooth and the sky was mostly clear with just an occasional puffy cloud here and there. The corn and soybean fields of Illinois stretched to the edge of the western horizon. Mike reached up to the overhead panel and turned off the "Fasten Seatbelt" sign. He then selected the "Public Address" position on the auxiliary radio panel.

Picking up the hand-held microphone next to his right knee, Mike delivered the customary "Welcome Aboard" speech, telling the passengers how much the airline appreciated their business, the weather forecast for the destination, and the expected time of arrival. Having completed that task, he replaced the microphone and ensured that his headset and transmit button were back in the primary radio position. Within seconds, the unpleasant voice of the Chicago controller was back in his ear.

"Pacifica Seven Sixty-Two, you are clear of O'Hare inbound traffic, climb and maintain flight level four zero zero, and you are cleared direct to Seattle-Tacoma International."

"Roger, Pacifica Seven Sixty-Two is climbing to flight level four zero zero and cleared direct to destination," Mike replied.

Mike dialed the new numbers into the flight management computer while his First Officer monitored the autopilots' climb and slight course correction. He took a quick glance at the load sheet that the Operations Agent had handed to him back at Midway Airport. Immediately he noticed that the aircraft was still a little too heavy to reach 40,000 feet. Mike pressed the transmit button on the left side of his yoke.

"Chicago Center, Pacifica Seven Sixty-Two is too heavy to reach flight level four zero zero. For performance purposes, we are requesting flight level three two zero as our final cruise altitude."

Since no other aircraft were flying at that altitude, Chicago Center granted his request. Mike decreased the altitude in the flight management computer from 40,000 feet to 32,000 feet. The aircraft was currently climbing through 29,000 feet and in just a couple of minutes would reach its' assigned altitude. All of the computers and navigation radios were working correctly so Mike loosened his seat belt, slid his chair back, and tried to make himself comfortable for the long flight ahead. With nothing vitally important to do, he began reminiscing about last nights' party.

"Who was that cute girl you were dancing with last night?" Mike laughingly asked his First Officer. Gary shrugged his shoulders and said, "What are you talking about?"
Loosening the knot in his tie, Mike laughed a little harder.

"Don't give me that shit! I saw you out there on the dance floor copping a feel of that little brunette's butt!"

"Oh, that girl!" Gary replied. "Man, I never did get her name. Hell, at that point, I don't think she knew what her name was! She'd been downing Hiroshimas like they were going out of style, and I wasn't copping a feel - I was trying to keep her from falling down!"

‘Hiroshima' is the name of the house specialty drink of the Bombs Away Pub. Loaded with a witch's brew of hard liquors, anybody foolish enough to drink an entire mug would feel like they had been instantly vaporized. The pub is a favored hang-out for the local airport workers and flight crews overnighting in nearby hotels.

It is shaped like a Quonset hut straight out of a World War II movie. Patrons enter the establishment through a series of above-ground tunnels constructed of olive green sandbags and old wooden planks. Drop lights, connected by bare electrical conduit, are strung from the planks every ten feet to light the way. Speakers, mounted at the top of the tunnel, blare a continuous loop of bombs exploding and the rat-a-tat-tat of machine gun fire. Approaching the entrance, the big band sounds of Tommy Dorsey, Cab Calloway, and Glenn Miller can be heard leaking through the front doors.

Once inside, the cavernous interior is stuffed with the requisite battle-scarred military paraphernalia, including a full-scale P-51 Mustang fighter swooping down from the ceiling. The walls are covered in camouflage netting of various colors and textures, and the tables have vintage Air Corp squadron and Army unit patches laminated to the top of them. A bar, imported from an English pub, is located adjacent to the entrance and a small wooden dance floor, bordered by more sand bags, is situated in the far corner of the building. The wait staff is costumed in various styles of WWII military garb - the bartenders have the choice of wearing a sailor or soldier uniform, the hostesses wear tailored replicas of bomber pilot uniforms, and the waitresses wear white mini-skirts, low-cut white blouses, and a white nurse's cap with a red cross printed on the front.

The previous evening, Mike had led his first officer and flight attendants into the Bombs Away Pub to have dinner and drinks. It didn't take long before they realized the place was crawling with other Pacifica pilots and flight attendants. Sensing the perfect opportunity for a crew party, Mike herded the crewmembers to the back of the pub where they joined together several tables. As the "nurses" brought the pitchers of beer, Mike made his way around the tables, saying "hello" to the pilots that he knew and introducing himself to the ones that he didn't. Everybody was laughing at the latest company gossip which mostly pertained to certain pilots and flight attendants observed "hooking up" at the various crew hotels.

The frothy pitchers were being delivered at a constant interval and a festive atmosphere, along with the jitterbug beat of Louis Jordan's "G.I. Jive", permeated the pub.

As the party progressed, Mike and several pilots eventually migrated to one end of the conglomerate of tables. It wasn't long before the "only by the grace of God have I lived this long" stories started flying fast and loose. This tradition dates back to shortly after the bicycle brothers from Dayton stunned the world at Kitty Hawk. These frightening tales usually start with the pilot/storyteller finding himself in some sort of dire straits only to survive by employing his superior knowledge and flight skills. It is truly a professional pilot that can keep a straight face during the recitation of these heroic accounts, because all aviators, from the freshly soloed student pilot to the most senior commercial airline pilot, know that "pilot stories" are ninety-nine percent balderdash topped with one percent bullshit. Or vice versa, depending on the number of cocktails consumed!
Mike wasn't much of a "party animal" so, around 2100 hours, he started saying his farewells. The party was in full swing and several flight attendants tried to talk him into one more "Charleston" before he left. But Mike wanted to get back to his room and check in with his wife and daughters. Tomorrow was a school day; if he hustled he could talk to his daughters before they went to bed. Mike told the flight attendants that he appreciated the offer but he really had to go. He promised them a "rain check" for the next time that they met. On his way out of the pub, he cornered their waitress and paid the tab for the entire table. Mike made his way through the pub, waving good-bye to those that were out of hearing range. As he took one last look around before entering the tunnel, he noticed his first officer on the dance floor, slow dancing with a cute brunette - both hands on her butt and whispering into her ear.

"So you were just trying to keep her from falling down? Yeah, right!" Mike said as he winked at his first officer. He was letting Gary know that his answers were scoring high points on the bullshit meter.

"No, really! Things aren't always what they...."
Ding. Ding. The cabin service phone interrupted Gary.
Mike picked up the phone and said, "Hey."

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Next: Saturday 1045 Central Standard Time

Captain Steve A. Reeves is author of fiction book SQUAWK 7500 Terrorist Hijacking of Pacifica 762 rue and it is true story. Book will be soon available on Amazon. Stay tuned.

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