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It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's The Funniest Stories About Flying!

Humor Contest Celebrates 100 Years Of Laughter In The Air

DAYTON, Ohio -- Knock, knock? Who's there? Effunny. Effunny, who?
Effunny thing happened to me on my last flight.

A national flight humor contest has picked the funniest, true stories about flying. The contest, run by the University of Dayton's Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop, chose the best pilot story, passenger story and original joke from hundreds of entries. Erma Bombeck graduated from the University of Dayton in 1949 and credited the University with making her believe she could write. Her syndicated column was carried by 700 newspapers when she died of kidney disease in 1996.

"We thought the 100th anniversary of flight was an opportunity to celebrate 100 years of flight humor," said Tim Bete, humor columnist and director of the writers' workshop. "It's clear airlines have a sense of humor -- just look at the meals they serve. The food is bad but at least there's not a lot of it."

So, Bete created a Web site -- -- where visitors could submit their humorous stories and jokes about flying. More than 16,000 people visited Web site since it opened last September. In addition to picking winners, the site has been a winner, too. It was named a top ten "indispensable Web site for travelers" by and one of the Houston Chronicle's "100 favorite travel Web sites."

Six humor columnists from Ohio, North Carolina, Texas and Japan, plus Bete, judged the entries. Bete characterized the judging process as "a lot like American Idol but without the whining and crying."

The first-place true passenger story went to Jim Murray from Saint Paul, Minn.

"On a flight from Anchorage to Tokyo, the flight engineer went back into the passenger cabin," wrote Murray. "An elderly woman passenger stopped him and asked him what the temperature was. 'It's 70 degrees, madam,' he replied, adding, 'But outside it's 30 degrees below zero.' 'Young man,' the woman demanded, 'What were you doing outside?'"

Tracy Barrus from Star, Idaho, submitted the first-place true story from a pilot.

"I needed a flying fix one Saturday, so I loaded my wife and 6-year-old daughter into a rented 182 and flew from Boeing Field in Seattle to Tacoma Narrows Airport for lunch," wrote Barrus. "Our twenty-mile flight over Puget Sound lasted only nine minutes, but to a first-grader who had never crossed a body of water in an airplane before, it must have seemed like an exotic journey indeed. As we walked across the ramp toward the airport restaurant, she placed her tiny hand in mine and asked, 'Daddy, do people here speak the same language as us?'"

The winning original joke -- actually a poem, called " High Cuisine" -- was awarded to Dominic Martia from Sarasota, Fla.

All airline passengers agree, the food in flight is awful.
Some even say it shouldn't be, classified as lawful.
The pasta's mush, the meat is tough, the pudding's flavored paste.
The salad's some sad wilted stuff, and nothing has much taste.
When served this fare inedible, each passenger will frown.
And so it's quite incredible, how few will turn it down.

Other contest winners can be read at the flight humor Web site -- The site also includes the award-winning comedy film, "Wrighting the Wrongs," and links to humor columns about flight and flying.

"While we picked two winners in each category, we don't like to consider the other entries losers," said Bete. "Our official position is that our contest was overbooked and some entries were bumped. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope those who didn't win will fly with us again someday."


"During the descent of a flight to Florida, my 18-month-old son's ears began to bother him. I handed him a baby bottle of water saying, 'this will make your ears feel better.' He looked uncomprehendingly at the bottle, then at me, and back at the bottle. With a shrug of his shoulders -- exhibiting total trust in what his mother said -- he lifted the bottle and stuck the nipple right into his ear!"
-- Dana Dunlevy, Florham Park, New Jersey

"The C-119 (flying boxcar) flown in the Korean Conflict had more than one problem. A serious one was its tendency to reach takeoff speed then lose some power. If you were not aware of this and attempted to take off at proper speed instead of waiting another couple of seconds for proper power you could have a problem. This morning the newly-assigned co-pilot was paired with a hard-nosed Major as captain. The co-pilot was nervous and it showed in his actions. As they approached and gained take off speed, the Major decided to soften his image as difficult and turned to the new co-pilot and quipped 'cheer up.' The co-pilot executed the 'gear up' maneuver just as the power drop occurred. The plane came back to the runway without landing gear. No one was injured. No blame was placed for the incident."
-- R.L. Wilson, Jamul, Calif.

"Since I am an infrequent flyer, I have several questions that may seem a bit naive but still cry out for answers. Do 7:47 and 7:27 planes fly at any other times? Can I exchange my round-trip ticket for one that is rectangular so that it fits better on my carry on bag? Does the overhead storage cover one's eyes? If I fly a DC 10 can I still use my AC razor? Isn't it dangerous to make sure the passengers are loaded before take off? If I happened to be in the head (bathroom) when the 'Fasten Seat Belt' sign comes on, can my wife do it for me? My wife wants to know if a mudpack can be substituted for an oxygen mask? Should I bring my own in-flight meal if I'm allergic to pretzels and peanuts?"
-- Lee Murdock, Grand Forks, North Dakota

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