John Travolta offers to fly Spice Force One

spiceforce757Artist’s conception of B757 Spice Force One by ScanPix.

Oh how I wish this was a bad dream.

(BANG) – John Travolta wants to fly the Spice Girls around the globe for their forthcoming world tour.

The ‘Pulp Fiction’ star, who is a qualified pilot, is keen to jet the reunited girl group from venue to venue on their lavish private plane, nicknamed ‘Spice Force One’.

— “Spice-y pilot John Travolta“, BANG Media International, October 10th, 2007.

Right away I can spot some rank stupidity in the media report.  I guess this reporter has never heard of graduated licensing.  Apparently “qualified pilots” can fly any type of aircraft to any distance under any weather or environmental conditions.  A qualified pilot flies his aircraft by virtue of understanding the laws of physics and dynamics of lift.  Not by hours of instruction and operational experience in the unique instrument layout,  performance and handling capabilities of specific models of aircraft.  That’s not required at all.

After all, the average automobile driver can go from a Honda Accord to a Formula One car without any additional instruction whatsoever.  All those differentiated A-M ratings are a giant sham, you don’t need them!  One size fits all!

John said: “It sounds like an amazing plane. I have been flying since 1974 so maybe I could help out. I was always desperate to be a pilot, every cent I had went on flying lessons.”

…The 757 will transport the girls – all of whom are mothers apart from Mel C – their families, management, wardrobe, make-up artists and bodyguards from venue to venue.

Great, John.  How about you put some of those hard-earned cents into, oh I don’t know, type certification on the Boeing 757, for instance?  Right now you’re a private pilot, meaning you’re not permitted to take paying customers, and the insurance premiums of your non-revenue passengers are going to be a tad higher than if they were flying with an ATP-rated pilot with a few hundred hours in-type.  These are Travolta’s certifications, incidentally—courtesy of the FAA:

travolta_faa_certs (Look it up here if you want to do your own legwork.)

That’s a pretty impressive list of type ratings, but they do carry a couple of significant limits.  All heavy commercial airliners have a minimum aircrew requirement of two, meaning they cannot legally be operated without two mission-capable pilots on the flight deck.  “B-707 SIC PRIVILEGES ONLY” means Travolta may only act as second-in-command of his own Boeing 707; a type-rated pilot-in-command has to be in the left seat beside him, with overall responsibility for the aircraft and flight.  “VFR ONLY” for the Cessna Citation rating means he blew (or did not seek) the IFR checkride for that bizjet.

This is really a half-hearted slam because, frankly, he has more multi-engine turbine ratings than most private pilots would ever dare to dream about.  And I think that’s terrific.  But he can’t carry revenue passengers (commercial rating), and he hasn’t bothered to get himself an ATP (airline transport pilot) rating—which is what the Spice Girls’ insurer is going to insist on, given the size of the entourage and the attendant liability issues.

Just one word of advice, John.  When you’re offering yourself as a pilot on a pop tart world tour, the very least you can do is get type-rated on their leased aircraft.  Otherwise you may as well be offering to give them a lift to the airport on your kid sister’s bike with the banana seat and tassels hanging off the chopper handlebars.

UPDATE: Point of clarification for non-aviators.  A 757/767 type rating course lasts a little over four weeks.  Recall that Travolta’s 707, Jett Clipper Ella, doesn’t have a modern glass cockpit, it’s all steam gauges.  So he’s looking at 4+ weeks to get type-rated in time for a tour whose first performance is December 2nd.  Better get cracking.

Also note (at the above link) that Qantas lets him get away with wearing the four stripes of a captain when he’s only FO-qualified (recall the second-in-command limit on his 707 rating).

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9 Responses
  1. larzini says:

    First Victoria Beckham signed by Tom Cruise to play an alien bride in The Thetan, not yet listed on by the way. Now Travolta wants to fly the Spice Girls around the world. If Scientology doesn’t have the Beckhams yet, they want them really badly.

  2. Beckham. Travolta. Cruise. Posh. Spice Girls. Planes. Movies. WTF?

    Sorry for the title. It looks like some blatant sploggery, but the post is done and the clever title is …

  3. Chris Taylor says:

    There is a kind of odd symmetry to it. Although I kind of doubt that Cruise will be able to find significant distributors and venues for this Thetan business.

  4. cha0tic says:

    Let him fly them I say. If he wrecks the ‘plane the world would be a better place 🙂
    I was going to suggest another Rock Star that could fly them, but it appears he’s not certified either. Though it needs someone that understands the rating system better than myself to say for sure.

  5. Chris Taylor says:

    That’s kind of the rub — Travolta’s not legally allowed to fly 757s until he gets passes his type checkride and gets the endorsement in his logbook. Right now he’s offering to fly a plane he can’t legally fly.
    Dickinson on the other hand does have his 757 type rating, and an ATP pilot’s license. Plus he flies the same damn plane for a living, has probably racked up a few hundred hours in it, and would be exactly the sort of pilot the insurers love. =)
    I don’t know if either is ETOPS-qualified which would be a requirement for the long trans-oceanic flights inherent in a world tour. I’m assuming Dickinson would be, given his job requirements, but I can’t find his current certs in the FAA’s database since he flies for a British carrier.

  6. Alan says:

    ….John Travolta wants to fly the Spice Girls around the globe…[says John]…”maybe I could help out”…
    What is so hard to understand about this? Exchange the name above with a huge proportion of the globe’s population. For the record, in 1983 I daydreamed of being a groundskeeper to the Gogos…and at Fenway.

  7. Chris Taylor says:

    It’s not the offering in itself, or even the desire. It’s the public offering of what one plainly doesn’t have.
    Try doing it at the office and see how big your bonus is. The only industry where that really tends to work out in one’s favour is politics, because you can obtain what you don’t have through pork and patronage.
    Let’s be blunt. John is not capable of sitting in the right or left seat of that bird at any stage of the flight (except parked with engines shut down). His ability to help is limited to dispensing stale pretzels as the in-flight snack.

  8. Alan says:

    A boy can dream…

  9. Sean says:

    I wonder how Kelly Preston feels about Johnny offering the Spice Girls a “ride”…