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Tony Kornheiser

Traumatic Tales of Avian Mishap, Afflicting Fowl Fresh and Frozen

April 04, 2001|Tony Kornheiser

Spanning the globe to bring you . . . birds in the news!

I heard the following story the other day. I can't personally vouch for its authenticity. But, as an experienced journalist, I believe it to be fact because it was told to me by some guy I know who heard it from another guy, somebody's cousin, maybe. Here it is:

"There's a company in Florida that makes cannons for its client, the U.S. Air Force. The cannon fires geese at jets."

Geese? Why are they shooting geese at jets?

"Because these planes cost $50 million each, and they're designed to fly low, under the radar. But they don't work very well when a flock of 12-pound geese gets sucked into a jet turbine intake. The Air Force needs to find a way to gooseproof the planes."


I get it. So these geese are flapping toward the planes, and the Air Force pilots practice taking evasive maneuvers?

"They're not live geese flying at the plane, you imbecile. They shoot geese carcasses at the plane to simulate a high-velocity goose impact."

(Does Bjork know about this? This would solve all her wardrobe problems. All she has to do is hang out at MacDill Air Force Base and wait for next year's Oscar dress to land at her feet.)

Gee, I'd think it would be tough to hit a plane going 800 miles an hour with a goose.

"The planes are on the ground. Hit them in the air with a goose, they crash."

Oh. Right.

"OK, so word of this cannon spreads. And in comes the British Air Force. The Brits call the company in Florida. They acquire the cannon. They set it up. They fire a goose at an RAF jet. Bam! The goose goes right through the windshield and almost decapitates the pilot! So the Brits call the Florida company and raise hell.

"The Florida company is dumbstruck. Nothing like this ever happened before. They ask the Brits, 'Exactly what kind of geese do you people have over there?' Concerned representatives of the company and the RAF engage in a great technical discussion to get to the heart of the problem."

And? And?

"And the upshot is, the Florida company tells the Brits, 'Next time, thaw the goose out first.' "

We interrupt this column for an urgent disclaimer. Just minutes before press time, our source on this charming story called to say he might have been slightly off on a couple of minor facts. He said, and I quote: "It may have been chickens. And, um, it may have been Sweden. Is that a problem for you?" You mean if the facts of this story are completely wrong, would that be troublesome for me? Hey, who died and made me Bob Woodward?


That story, shall we say, dovetails nicely with this one, from last week: Famed baseball pitcher Randy "Big Unit" Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks was in a spring training game when he cut loose with a 96 mph fastball. As the ball rocketed from the mound, a dove made the mistake of crowding the plate on Big Unit. About two feet in front of home, the fastball and the dove collided. Eyewitnesses said the dove exploded into a mass of feathers. Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle said the bird's mistake was that it was guessing curveball.

What remained of the bird was in fowl territory. Fowl territory! God, I am funny.

"I didn't think it was all that funny," Randy Johnson said of the incident.

Oh, please. That's because you've got no sense of humor. I mean, could the lesson be any more obvious? Next time, thaw the dove. Hahaha.

Note to animal rights activists: This column was written over the violent protests of Tony Kornheiser. He would never be so unfeeling about the plight of geese, chickens, or, you know, anything you might find in a sandwich. Also, he wants to assure you no animals were hurt in the making of his upcoming TV special, "Benji on a Stick."

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