The recruitment team interviewing applicants to train as co-pilots with Capella Aviation left the youngest guy to last, expecting to ridicule Danny Mortimer (24) who'd just scraped in at the minimum age and yet was claiming 5320 hours as a pilot.
"Are you twenty-four or more like thirty, claiming these amount of flying hours as a licensed pilot?" asked the panel convener.
The curly-haired blond smiled and said he was twenty-four as verified in submitted copies of his birth certificate and passport.
"Ah-ha. Tell me, is this claim of 5320 flying hours the truth?"
"Ah no sir."
"Well that's it, off you go."
"As my submitted log book shows they are my hours flown as a commercial pilot. It occurred to me you'd not be interested in the 2839 hours recorded from the time I first qualified to hold a license to the time I gained my commercial license. Further it ignores the approximate 1700 hours I flew under my father's supervision from the time I was fifteen."
"Good god man, that's incredible."
"Thank you sir. I'm the fourth generation in my Mortimer family to have been a pilot."
The interview proceeded smoothly from that point, Applicant Mortimer describing his experience as a crop-dusting pilot. The submitted papers established that he was qualified in advance aerial navigation and for night flying, was qualified to engage in search and rescue missions and held a basic light aircraft preliminary maintenance certificate.
On that day, applicant Mortimer was one of the eight of twenty-one applicants selected to advance to the next step to demonstrate their flying skills and then proceed on to aptitude testing.
After the applicants were briefed, with heavy emphasis on safety, they were then given the choice of flying a Cessna Skycatcher or a Cessna Skyhawk to demonstrate their basic ability in performing a set of routine procedures. All chose the Skyhawk and all distinguished themselves as good aviators.
They were then invited to display any special qualities they had and none volunteered.
Selection panel convener Roach Jeffries flicked through some of the sheets on his clipboard.
"Charles is your Pitts S-2A available for Applicant Mortimer to fly? He's rated to fly aerobatic aircraft."
"Yes providing you will guarantee a rebuild or a replacement if anything goes wrong."
"Of course and you'll have that in writing by the time you have briefed Mr Mortimer thoroughly. I don't want him doing anything extreme or flying beyond the airport."
Charlie said that wouldn't allow much scope but Danny said he would just perform two basic moves to display skill including acute concentration.
"You are not to put anyone or any property into jeopardy and that includes yourself young man."
"Understood sir," Danny said to Mr Jeffries.
The others had coffee while Danny received his briefing.
Charlie Tonks satisfied himself Danny was familiar with the controls and Danny said what he planned to do. He taxied out and waited until receiving clearance. Charlie had phoned the tower and asked for a 15-minute window clear of all other traffic and consent was given.
Danny took off and circled and did a lazy roll and came back 30-feet above the main runway inverted (upside down) for much of the length of the runway and then gained altitude and flew a 'lazy eight" and then landed and taxied into the hangar.
When he returned to where his fellow applicants were gathered he was applauded and Roach Jeffries shook his hand and said, "Well done. Your restraint counts heavily in your favor. You resisted any urge to show off and did exactly when Charlie told me you said you would do."
"On day you really must show me what you can do with my little airplane," said Charlie, also shaking Danny's hand.
As everyone was leaving, an extremely attractive blonde around forty approached Danny and said, "You obviously have soft hands."
Danny looked at her breasts and thought they might react very favorable to soft hands.
She stared at him and said, "Are you thinking what I think you are thinking?"
"Yeah but I also thing you might be a pilot."
"Well you only just escaped being labeled an asshole. Yes I do fly. I familiarize trainees with our company's aircraft. You will be aware they are all turbo-prop short-haul aircraft we fly on our mail and freight routes and for passenger charters. I'm Ronni Mitchell."
"Hi Ronni, I'm Danny Mortimer."
"I know who you are. The assessment team has watched you fly and we have scrutinized your documented record of experience and it is our unanimous decision that you join our senior recruits as from tomorrow and it's your responsibility to fill in any gaps left by your rapid advancement if you wish to graduate with your new class."
"Ronni is sufficient. Would you like to invite me to dinner tonight?"
"Will I be flying tomorrow?"
"Then it would be my pleasure to take you to dinner."
"Fine. I know which hotel you are in. I'll pick you up at 1830 hours. Dress smart casual."
"Yes ma'am. I mean Ronni."
Danny ran to catch up with his colleagues but they had gone. He walked back to the hotel knowing it would take less than an hour, giving him plenty of time to be ready for Ronni. God her tits looked really juicy.
Danny wondered why laidback Ronni had picked him out. It didn't appear to be a whim. He recalled how smooth she'd been, as if it had been rehearsed. Jesus this could be sort of set-up. She wasn't intending to have sex with him at all. Oh no.
No his imagination was running away on him. She was probably practiced enough in whatever she did to be smooth and her focus was setting herself up to have sex with him. She probably did this to a guy from every intake and cut a notch on her bra for every success.
Yeah that was it.
Danny sighed and wondered why he was allowing his mind to run away on him like this. It was a total waste of time. Yeah why him? He sighed, well he only had to wait to find out.
* * *
Danny went out of the hotel at 6:30 and a few seconds later a cab arrived and the rear door opened and Ronni called, "Hi, jump in."
She kissed him as the cab moved off and said she was wearing a suit instead of an evening dress because it was a business dinner. She would brief him in the bar.
As they chatted she reached for his hand and held it but displayed no emotion and didn't squeeze it. "You have to trust me. This is a business meeting and we are to dine with my father who is chairman of the airline and Dave Mitchell who is head of airline security. You will know we have twenty-eight aircraft. Associated with that is an infrastructure to support an airline larger than that size.
She squeezed his hand, "Would you like sex tonight?"
"With you or your father?"
She laughed and said he was funny.
"We are going to be asking a lot from you and because I'm reasonably attractive and you are away from home I thought you might like to um, be with me. Tomorrow you'll meet your new associate, Lori Reeves and after that meeting I expect you will have no need for me and that's why I wish to thank you tonight."
"This is very strange."
"I agree Danny but by the time we finish dinner all will be revealed and every piece will fall into place. Oh I'm married."
"I had wondered about that when I felt the two rings on your ring finger."
"Well our security report on you suggests you are a smart cookie. But at the end of the day all this might be a bit of a bore for you so don't think you are being recruited to become an international spy."
"Right I won't. Are you good at sex?"
"I was thinking if I'm to commit adultery it ought to be worth it."
"Oh yes Asshole, I'll not disappoint you."
Ronni then began the briefing. Danny had been identified as a possible recruit to fly special flights carrying high value cargo such as banknotes between banks and gold and diamonds between clients. Naturally everyone involved in such flights had to be trustworthy and receive security clearances.
"Your clearance came through when you were in the air on your first demonstration flight. I immediately swung into action and advised you at the first opportunity your advance in training would be accelerated. The other special recruit in Lori's intake is unlikely to graduate because his latest health examination indicates a deteriorating eye condition. Therefore it was decided to accelerate you to take his place alongside Lori.
A lean, tanned guy in a white suit approached their booth. Ronni jumped up and introduced the guy to Danny and said she would see them at dinner.
"So our young hotshot who's already flown more hours and many amateur pilots fly in a lifetime eh?"
"Yes Mr Capella," Danny said motioning him to sit and then he waved to a waitress. "Even as a kid I was bored sitting around. I feel I'm at my best when flying."
Lucca ordered ice water and Danny asked for another wine.
"Do you drink much?"
"Not a great deal but I will have a few because I'm not flying tomorrow."
"Who says you're not?"
Lucca grinned. "Some advice young man...make sure her husband doesn't see you alone with her. He packs a mean punch and also carries a .38."
Danny swallowed but not obviously.
"That sounds good advice to me Mr Capella."
"So you're not denying outright that Ronni and you have plans for after dinner?"
"No. I see no reason to be forthcoming about it but when challenged by her father I have no reason to be evasive. She's a mature woman, not a child and if she's high up working for you it's obvious you two must maintain a close relationship."
"But she didn't kiss me when I came in, so how close is close?"
"That's when I figured this whole thing was a setup or some sort of test, possibly about trust."
Lucca beamed. "She told me you were one smart cookie and probably fearless."
"Ronni is also smart. She hasn't known you long enough to feel she's reached any conclusion about that. Are you trustworthy?"
"Pretty well 100% I'd say providing I'm not asked to doing anything illegal."
Lucca frowned. "That's a good answer."
He invited Danny to dine with him, Ronni and her husband. "You are a smart kid Danny. Never entirely expect people to be what you think they are, not even your own mother."
"What's wrong with my mother?"
"How the hell should I know, never having met the woman? I'll tell you something Danny. This Lori you've being teamed with. I reckon you can trust her 98%."
"But not 100?"
"Jesus kid, didn't I just tell you never to entirely trust anyone?"
It was a pretty dully evening because Lucca did most of the talking. It also started with a jump after Danny was introduced to Ronni's husband Dave and then Ronni sat beside Danny.
"Do you come here often?" he asked Ronni.
"Yes, I like to come often... to this restaurant," she smiled, brushing her hand over his dick.
"Pass me the salt please Ronni."
She had to use the hand that was playing a tattoo on his dick.
They all watched as Ronni sprinkled some salt into his glass of water that had just been poured.
He drank it and gushed, "Aaarrghh."
They were still staring.
"Salt depletion after a tough workout at the gym last night," he lied rather than say Ronni was provoking him and he'd needed that distraction.
They were just looking away when the stupid bitch Ronni grabbed his arm and felt his muscle. "God you must have a great body hiding under that suit?"
Danny didn't look at her father or husband. God what would they be thinking?
After dinner as soon as Lucca began making noises about going, Danny jumped up and said, "Thanks for the hospitality Mr Capella. I must dash. Bye everyone.
He left not looking at Ronni and as he cab pulled away he heard Ronni shouting, "Hey Danny, wait up."
Half an hour later his phone went but he ignored it and twenty minutes later Ronni began calling and knocking on his door but he pulled a pillow over his head and ignored her. One fuck wasn't worth risking being beaten up and fired.
Next morning Danny went to the hotel room being used as a training room and met the four members of the senior class. The three guys were aged around thirty and the woman, introduced as Lori Reeves, looked younger. The brunette Lori was attractive and appeared to be athletic, judging by the way she moved and stood so straight.
Once accepted for training, students paid $1000 toward the cost of their first week's course and if advanced paid $2000 toward the cost of their more intense second-week course. Their suitability for full acceptance as new pilots for the company would then be assessed, the applicants aware that acceptance could be as low as 15% of graduates. After being advised of his elevation, Danny was required to pay only $1000 for beginning the senior 21-day course seven days after it had commenced.
Danny was assigned to sit next to Lori. Their knees touched and she pulled away as if she'd just been struck.
"I've been briefed about you Asshole. You mistreat women."
Who the hell could have told her that lie? "Who told you that crap?"
"Mrs Ronnie Mitchell, director of recruiting, training and personnel welfare."
Danny snorted and said sell Lori wouldn't need to worry. She was so up herself she could expect no attention from him.
Lori moved her chair six inches farther away from him.
Next morning Lori was paired to fly with Danny.
As they walked out to the two-seater Skycatcher training aircraft he said, "You take the first flight."
"I tried to avoid flying with you but Mrs Mitchell said you needed the benefit of my experience to get with through the course. She offered me the use of this aircraft to fly home next weekend."
"Ah and that was sufficient incentive to buy your off."
Lori exhibited total competence as she took off and keeping over farmland climbed in a lazy corkscrew to 7000 ft. as instructed in the pre-flight briefing.
As they reached that height the engine of the small airplane began to vibrate significantly.
"We've blown a piston or done in the crankshaft," Lori said, remaining relatively calm.
"Kill the motor."
"What?" she yelled into her microphone above the increasing engine noise.
"Kill the motor NOW."
She did that and maintained trim.
"Want me to take over?"
"No," she said firmly but I'd appreciate consultation. "I need to report our situation."
Lori called 'Mayday, mayday" and reported to the tower they appeared to have a major engine problem and were in gradual spiral descent.
Their position was confirmed and Lori was told the air space was being cleared.
She was asked was she alone or did she have a co-pilot.
"Fellow student Danny Mortimer is with me."
"Oh Lori, this is your lucky day having Danny with you."
Lori said she did not understand the comment.
The controller laughed and said she was flying with a real Ace.
Lori snorted and accelerated their rate of gliding descent.
"Sky Blue Baby come in. This is Ronni Mitchell calling."
"Sky Blue Baby acknowledging. This is Lori Reeves Mrs Mitchell."
"Lori he's no Asshole. Will explain later. Please hand over the controls. You'd be a fool not to place your landing in the hands of a pilot who began flying when you were in your senior year at high school."
"What is this, a conspiracy?"
"Lori, we want you two down here alive and our airplane back in one piece. Do it Lori."
The next comment recorded was played on TV that night during a report of the incident.
"Okay Hot Shot, you are in control. Kill me by crashing and I'll kick your ass."
"Capella Tower, this is Danny Mortimer, in control of Sky Blue Baby giving a situation report. We have a couple of knots breeze from the north so will make a landing from the south. Please have emergency units on standby. We might be able to make a power landing. Our engine began to vibrating and the revs fluctuated wildly. Temperate gauge went almost off the clock but Pilot Reeves shut down the engine. Perhaps it's contaminated fuel. The engine is cooling so we are gliding in a gently spiral to prolong the cooling and I'll restart the engine as we are about to touch down to eliminate risk apart from the engine blowing up of course. We hope the 0-200D being horizontally opposed would blow sideways anyway and leave us intact. Over."
"This is Capella Tower. Status report received. We have you in visual. Report any problems. Good luck. Over and out."
Danny partly removed his headset and motioned to Lori to do the same.
He said, "Sorry about this."
"It's okay. Mrs Mitchell will know more than I know. How many emergency landings have you had?"
Danny said three. One on a runway and two on cow pastures.
"And how many years have you been flying regularly?"
"Nine years, since I was fifteen. All up I've flown more than 11,500 hours."
"Omigod but the point is, are you any good?"
"Other females have told me I am."
"What is Mrs Mitchell going to tell me after we land."
"I won't spoil a good story."
"God you men are all the same. Always keen to deny women information."
"Yeah, yeah. Oh look, there are three fire trucks and two body wagons waiting for us like vultures. Oh by the way I admire your calmness. No wonder you have been picked... um."
"Picked for what?"
"Mrs Mitchell will tell you. Don't indicate you know."
"I bet it's to team with you, with you in charge."
"Now that is just speculation. Do you fuck?"
"God you are so juvenile. Um thanks for noting I remained calm. Could you note that in your incident report?"
"Yeah of course."
"Thanks. Um if you make me really like you, perhaps you'll get really lucky."
"Sky Blue Baby calling Capella Tower."
"Capella Tower receiving."
"We are calm here. Beginning the final turn to prepare for landing. Will fire the engine to assist with the landing. We are not a glider. Thank god this aircraft has big wings and a light engine. Over and out.
"Message received by Capella Tower. Everyone here anticipates a copy book landing."
Danny fired the motor.
"I feel the slight lift. Good listen to that clanking," Lori said. "Get her down, engine temp is climbing fast."
As soon as they leveled and touched down Danny cut the motor and gingerly worked the brakes, being in no hurry to stop the powerless airplane.
Lori said loudly into her headset, "Good work Danny. I don't even think I need to change my pants. You're a darling getting me home safely. Danny Mortimer, glider pilot."
Danny watched the tow vehicle swing in front of them and back towards them carefully.
"Okay babe, let's go. I suppose we should file a dual report."
"Let me kiss you my elite pilot."
They rode back on a fire truck to the terminal building where the small crowd standing outside waved and clapped.
"Oh Christ, there's the media. You do the talking baby. It was your flight."
Lori faced the media.
"It was nothing really. If we were in a truck with engine failure we'd just pull to the side of the road. Being at 7000 in a heavier than air aircraft presents a little more of a problem. Fortunately Pilot Danny Mortimer has flown more than 11,000 and he was in his element when handed the controls while I was almost wetting myself."
"Huh, Lori was ice calm," Danny said. "But she weighted up my longer experience in the air against her hours and decided I was the best shot to get us down. That's the good decision-making pilots need to exercise. Oh she also prudently added incentive, saying if I got her down safely I could date her."
Lori laughed and grabbed Danny and kissed him. The media camera people just loved that.
After they filed separate reports as requested, Lori went to Ronni Mitchell's office.