We'd just set down on an early morning run to take a TV crew to up-state New York so they could cover an auto race. The ramp was packed as I taxied the King Air 200 to the directed unloading area. My FO popped the door and let the guys out as I finished with the cockpit. By the time I got to the door and stuck my head out the crew had their gear and were walking away.
"HEY!" I shouted, gaining their attention, "Come on back here!"
The guy in the lead came back as the others followed.
"Ya' know the little bottles of booze that we carry?" I asked as they looked at me a bit sheepishly.
"Yeah." came from the group.
"Well I noticed as you left that not one of you took any of those." I said pointing toward the storage compartment. The guys all looked a bit puzzled. "This ain't Delta guys, the booze is included in the flight- yer' company already paid for it." I insisted, "I'm the Captain and I'm telling you to get yer' butts back into this aircraft and clean out that liquor cabinet!"
With that they all happily re-boarded the aircraft and proceeded to wipe out the booze drawer... except for one guy who just stood there on the ramp and waited until his pals returned from their raid.
"What's up with you?" I asked him, "Are ya' a non-drinker like me?"
"Nope," he replied hanging his head, "I already have eight bottles in my pockets." A group laugh broke out.
On the drive to our hotel, which was about 60 miles away, my FO spoke up.
"I can't believe you did that with the booze," He said, "Don't ya' think you'll get in trouble with the company?"
"No," I replied smugly, "We do such short hops with the King Air that no one ever gets the chance to mix a drink. Those bottles have been in that cabinet for years and the stock really needs to be rotated."
After a 48 hour stay in a crummy hotel in some crummy town whose name I can't recall because it is blurred into the names of a bazillion other crummy towns, we were back at the airport. Before we had left the aircraft in the hands of the overworked line crew I'd left our fuel order. This particular aircraft had a leaky seal on the right outboard tank. So I had left instructions not to top that tank. This was because when it was topped, the fuel would syphon out for about the first 10 minutes of flight- until the level burned down away from the seal. It wasn't a hazard, it was just a bit of a waste. My FO was within weeks of leaving the company and going to his first regional airline- so I was working him in a manner similar to what I knew he'd see at the airline. With that in mind, I would send him out to preflight and I'd place that entire responsibility of the preflight on him- just like an airline FO. He was good, and I knew that whatever airline Captain got him to work with would have a good trip.
Coming in from the preflight, my FO told me that the overworked line guys had missed my note about the right outboard tank and topped it anyway. In all of the confusion, with a ramp packed with aircraft, it was easy to understand- annoying- but easy to understand. Frankly, on a trip that had been peppered with all sorts of little pains in the ass- this was something I could shrug off.
Our people showed up just in time for us to beat the rush out of the airport and we took the runway on the roll and blasted out of there with as much glee as noise. We were climbing out and looking for a low altitude cruise in the mid teens when my FO looked out toward the right wing.
"Yep," he reported, "it's syphoning again. Leavin' a long contrail of fuel back there." Then he happened to glance back into the cabin. "And the passengers have noticed it."
I glanced back and saw the guys in the back getting uneasy as they all were now taking notice of our vapor trail. Soon it became obvious that they were electing one of their group to tell me about the vapor trail. Seeing that- I casually spoke to my FO...
"They're gonna ask about it. Let's have some fun," I told him, "when they ask me about it, just follow my lead- do what I do."
My FO grinned in response just as the leader of the group stuck his head through the door and tapped me on the arm...
"There's something leaking out of the wing." He pointed toward the right wing as his fellow passengers looked on worriedly.
"There is?" I leaned over as if looking out my FO's window.
Then I looked at my FO and acting panicked blurted out, "AKKKKKKKK!"
My FO looked back at me and screamed "AKKKKKKK!"
Then we looked at each other and waving our arms overhead screamed "AKKKKKKK!"
Then we held our heads and went "AKKKKKK!"
Then I turned around and went casually about flying the aircraft, and my FO followed suit.
The whole cabin erupted in laughter.
"I take it that's not a problem... right?" the passenger asked.
"It's an expected pain in the butt." I replied. Later I leaned over to my FO and told him never to try anything like that at the airlines.
We landed and released our happy passengers. A few days later while preparing for another trip I stopped into the front office and told them what I'd done with the booze cabinet. The manager told me that was simply great because they'd been meaning to rotate that stock out for over a year. I was also informed that the passengers on the last trip said they'd had a great flight and they wanted to fly with me from now on... must have been what I did with the booze. I was thinking to myself "AKKKKKK!"