Actor, star of the cult-classic movie Airplane!
Do you have a pilot certificate?
I got my ticket about 32 years ago,
and then I got 31 hours toward a
helicopter rating for an add-on.
Then I had a bunch of different
things going on, I got busy with stuff,
and I kind of got away from it, so I
haven’t been flying for 15, 20 years
or so. Just over the last few months
I’ve been thinking about it. It would
be fun to get back up and get flying.
I’d like to finish up that helicopter
rating because that’s so much fun.
What did you fly?
I started out in 150s and 152s, and then
a 172 is what I would usually rent.
Tell us a little bit about your
My dad passed away 10 years ago,
but I wish that he could have been
here [at AirVenture 2011] with me
because he would have just loved it.
He was a career Marine fighter pilot,
and he was in World War II, Korea,
and Vietnam. I found an old 1935
Waco [here] that he learned to fly in.
When he got his pilot’s license the
FAA was the CAA, and I think it cost
him $15 to get his pilot’s license.
Did he introduce you to flying?
He used to bring home things from
McDonnell Douglas and all the
different companies—those little
platforms with the model on top and
the folders with the pictures, like
the F-86s and Shooting Stars and all
these different planes. I’d look at
them and…ooh, they were neat. Then
I went off and got [my certificate]
on my own to surprise him. When
I told him I got my license and he
said, “Yeah, I kinda figured you did.”
I said, “What do you mean?” and he
said, “Well, you were asking me about
‘What’s an ILS?’ and ‘What’s a VOR?’
and all this.” I said, “Oh, yeah. Shoot.”
What did you think of Airplane!?
Did you think it would be as big
as it is?
Submitted by Bryan Greene, via Facebook
No one ever thinks that. Nobody
knows that. If they knew that, they
could rule the world. I read the
script on a plane when I was flying
back from L.A. to Minneapolis. I
was doing a show at the time called
Angie. … I sat on the plane, and I
read this script because I had a
meeting with the guys the following
week. And there was something,
literally, something on every single
page that made me laugh out loud.
Didn’t just make me smile, but I
actually made a noise.
Are you glad you didn’t have
Submitted by Adam Stutz, via Facebook
Ever since I did the film—every
time I fly—I always do not order
the fish. I haven’t eaten fish on an
airplane only because it’s a running
joke with me. I’ve kept my string
alive, so for 31 years now I haven’t
had fish on airplanes just for the
joke. Just for me.
What are you up to now?
I haven’t been doing anything. I
lost my dad and then my mom was
ill and we lost her, and I kind of
went through a lot of that kind of
the painful part of life. … So I went
out to Hawaii, and I hung out with
some friends. I stayed there for a
month and was going to come back
at Christmas, and then the day before
Christmas Eve I was body surfing and
broke my neck. I grabbed my head
and held it, and my friend drove, and
I held my head for 40 minutes, got to
the ER, and then they ambulanced
me to the hospital 20 minutes away,
and then they air-ambulanced me
in a little twin over to Oahu. When
I woke up through all the drugs and
everything I had a halo bolted to my
head. That was four and a half years
ago, and I’ve just been getting fixed
up, and while I’ve been healing up
and relaxing I’ve realized how much
I really enjoy relaxing.
And my son is 20 now—he was 16
when that happened—so I’ve been
getting him finished off through
school, and now he’s playing music
and has an album coming out.
He’s got three songs on his mom’s
album—she used to be the lead singer
of The Runaways. … I’ve been just
watching all of that, being his roadie,
setting up all of his stuff, you know,
really enjoying that. But the last few
months I’ve been thinking about
wanting to get back up in the air and
just get up and fly along the coast, go
over to Catalina.