A pilot has dished the dirt on a former colleague who almost flew into the White House and dodged "UFOs" in the sky but somehow managed to avoid losing his job.
Former pilot Ron Wagner recently responded to a question on Quora asking what it took for a pilot to be fired.
Wagner answered the question by describing his former co-worker's horrifying list of midair misdemeanours - and said none of them cost the maverick pilot his job.
He said the US-based captain with a now-defunct airline, who Wagner dubbed "Captain Zero", first earned his bad reputation while he was a first officer.
In an early incident, while flying a Boeing 727 at full speed at 35,000 feet and during a full meal service, Captain Zero "quietly, and with no warning, reached up and dropped the landing gear".
"This vastly exceeded the speed limits on the gear and gear doors. And the sudden deceleration made a mess of the meal service in back. You can imagine it also terrified the passengers," Wagner said.
"When asked why, he said, 'I was just sitting there wondering what would happen if I did it'."
Wagner said the airline grounded Captain Zero with the intention of firing him, but Washington-based pilot union Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) intervened and got him reinstated.
He was made captain, and from there, his mid-flight antics got even more bizarre.
A few years later, Captain Zero was hand-flying another Boeing 727 when he suddenly "pulled the thing over about 120 degrees" and performed a series of totally inappropriate fighter pilot evasive manoeuvre.
"You can imagine the horror this caused in the cabin. Flight attendants were hurt, passengers peed themselves," he said.
"He [Captain Zero] claimed a flying saucer came straight at them and if he hadn't made those manoeuvres, they'd have crashed into it.
"The airline grounded him immediately, but ALPA again rescued him, this time after a series of psychological tests. And he thought himself a hero who should be exalted for his bravery and skills in saving those lives."
Wagner said similarly strange incidents followed over time and all the while, Captain Zero grew more convinced of his skill and bravery as a pilot.
But his colleagues grew especially concerned when Captain Zero was at Washington DC's Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and lined up for takeoff on Runway 36, which pointed almost directly at the White House.
"Departure procedures, of course, call for an immediate left turn to fly northeast up the Potomac River. But for the first mile or so, you and your fast-moving jet are pointed directly at The White House," Wagner explained.
"One day, awaiting takeoff clearance at the south end of Runway 36, Captain Zero very casually stated that he wondered what it would be like if, after takeoff, they just flew straight ahead and dived into the White House.
"Then, just as casually, he took off and made a normal climb. The other two pilots were, well, I don't know, but I can say that horrified was a monstrous understatement.
"This was the guy who one day wondered what it would be like if he lowered the landing gear at cruise speed, which he did, just to find out. Reminds me of Johnny Cash in Folsom Prison Blues: 'I shot a man just to watch him die'."
Wagner said the incident happened before September 11, 2001, which may explain why Captain Zero was allowed to fly again.
Captain Zero eventually did lose his job, but not for the reason you would expect.
"Fortunately this airline soon went bankrupt and we all dispersed and the world was safe from Captain Zero," Wagner said.