You’re Grounded, Mister!

This week’s round asks: How ‘bout when the skies aren’t so friendly?

Published December 8, 2023

Eric Keihl is the managing editor for Questionist’s parent company, Geeks Who Drink. Each week, he will accept a reader challenge to write a entire, quiz-ready trivia round on some tricky or obscure subject. You can challenge Eric here.

This week’s theme is defunct airlines, suggested by “PJM” at Harry’s Place in Lansing, Michigan. Thanks!

Y’all, Hooters had an airline. Neither a successful one (it lost them an estimated $40 million) nor a very large one (it maxed out at 15 destinations), nor a long-lived one (2003 to 2006) – but by gar it was a real airline.. And it was astoundingly predictable, too: Yes, it had oranged-up planes and everything. Yes, their flight crews had scantily-dressed women walking the aisles, though they had no air certifications and weren’t legally allowed to even push food carts or give the little safety demonstrations. Yes, they targeted college kids and middle-aged golfers by making Myrtle Beach their hub.

I’d never thought of an airline as an impulse buy, but that’s more or less how Hooters Air came to be: CEO Bob Brooks was “fascinated” by the industry, and so he just snatched up a bunch of assets from Winston-Salem’s Pace charter service. The newly-minted Hooters Air lured punters in with cheap fares ($300 round trip from Allentown to the Bahamas… though I’m not sure why you’d ever use the return ticket). And they actually did pretty well until fuel prices spiked in 2005, toppling the whole skeevy tower and turning the airline into… well, a defunct one.

On that note, here’s the round:

1. Pan Am the airline lasted way longer than Pan Am the TV series, one of the first starring roles for what Suicide Squaddie who looks great in pink? Margot Robbie

According to one production designer, Barbie single handedly caused a worldwide shortage of hot-pink paint. That’s really gonna put a kink in my knockoff Lisa Frank binder business.

2. Aptly enough, Wright Airlines started out servicing Michigan and what adjoining state where the Wright Brothers owned a bike shop? Ohio

The Wrights built their famous 1903 Flyer at that very bike shop, but chose North Carolina’s Outer Banks for the testing site because they needed a spot with steady winds, hills, soft landing spots, and isolation from cranks ranting about them spitting in the face of God.

3. TWA’s old neo-futurist terminal is now a hotel for passengers at what super-busy airport that was called New York International until 1963? John F. Kennedy International

One of the most famous designs by crossword staple Eero Saarinen, the outside of the hotel is definitely cool-looking, but… anybody getting kind of a spooky Kubrick-y vibe from the interior? No? Maybe it’s just me.

4. For a while, Hawaii had one airline called Aloha, and another named after what thankful M-word that contains all the letters in “aloha”? Mahalo 

Like much of Hawaiian culture, the meaning of “mahalo” has kinda been oversimplified by non-natives. Its original intent is more of a state of mind thing: a feeling of joy and gratitude for being alive, and an expression of love and peace toward nature and your fellow man. Come to think of it, we did almost the exact same thing to “namaste.”

5. In 1990, Donald Trump’s short-lived airline chartered the first American tour of what African activist that Trump somehow recently compared himself to? Nelson Mandela 

Trump Shuttle is on a long list of failed “Trump Something” properties that include Steaks, Vodka, Ice, Taj Mahal, Castle Hotel, Mortgage, University, Magazine, Network, and The Game. You thought I was gonna say “The Person” at the end, didn’t you. Aaaaah, gotcha!

6. Continental’s profits went straight to the moon after their board of directors added Audrey Meadows. She played Alice Kramden on what ‘50s sitcom that was pretty much The Flintstones? The Honeymooners

Meadows married CEO Bob Six, but she wasn’t just along for the flight: She helped design the company’s uniforms and aircraft interiors, including this snazzy coach-seat pattern. Oh, and she was the first female director of the First National Bank of Denver, and the only Honeymooner to get residuals in her contract. So shaddap, Ralph!

Continental Airlines Fabric Design 1968 / credit: Heather David

7. There were supersonic flights to Dallas and D.C., but not to the New Hampshire statehouse, when Braniff Airways became the first U.S. carrier to use what French-named jet? Concorde

Technically they weren’t allowed to fly faster than Mach 1 because of U.S. noise regulations, but the pilots admit they fudged it a bit over the mountains of Tennessee. A little sonic boom never hurt anybody! (Disclaimer: Unless you’re playing Street Fighter.)

8. Since Cosmic Air failed in 2008, Nepal’s two biggest airlines have been named for Buddha and what cryptid from the films Monsters Inc. and Smallfoot? Yeti

Buddha Air’s first flight was, naturally, a sightseeing flight over Mount Everest (or Sagarmāthā, as they call it.) Meanwhile, China has talked about setting up some kind of barrier to separate its part of the summit from Nepal’s. I’d hate to be the cop who has to enforce that one!

Bonus: The Marshals Service once offered a bunch of fugitives trips to the Bahamas on the totally-fake Puño Airlines, then nabbed them at the airport in what balmy U.S. city that’s very close to those islands? Miami

The Marshals claim they nabbed “over 14 fugitives” with this sting. Leaving aside the weirdness of the phrase “over 14,” that’s not too shabby. Apparently none of these criminals bothered to check a Spanish dictionary, because who would name their company “Fist Airlines”?