Duane Hoffmann / msnbc.com
By Travel writer
msnbc.com contributor
updated 8/19/2008 9:47:42 AM ET 2008-08-19T13:47:42

Happy National Aviation Day!

That’s right, August 19 is National Aviation Day, which was officially established in 1939 to “stimulate interest in aviation in the United States.” Unfortunately, it seems that some folks have gotten a little overstimulated recently, which can only mean one thing: It’s time for another round of Dotty Awards.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, the original honors were given in this space on April 1, a date that celebrates both general buffoonery and the official debut of the U.S. Department of Transportation, aka DOT (in 1967). The judges — no strangers to buffoonery themselves — suspect the concurrent timing could be a coincidence, but decided to name the awards the Dotties anyway.

So, what better way to commemorate National Aviation Day than with another round of awards that celebrate the odd side of travel? To be honest, the judges aren’t quite sure how this will help stimulate interest in aviation, but being befuddled has never stopped them before. May we have the envelopes, please:

The Ralph Fiennes Award for Frisky Business
Alas, it’s been a slow season for flight-crew friskiness — nary a peep since that French flight attendant’s striptease de cockpit showed up on YouTube last winter — so the judges have decided to expand the parameters of the award named for Lord Voldemort’s amorous alter ego. Henceforth, anyone who typically wears an airline uniform, but makes the news while not technically wearing it, is eligible, whether they’re on the flight deck, at the airport or in the woods outside Harrisburg, Pa.

Yes, this year’s Dotty goes to Jeffrey Bradford and Adrianna Connor, the Pinnacle Airlines pilot and flight attendant who were caught this spring during a clothing-optional romp in the woods outside the state capital. Bradford was cited for indecent exposure — apparently, he was sporting nothing but flip-flops and a watch — while Connor was pinched for public drunkenness. Both faced $300 fines and a lifetime banishment from the Mile High Club for failing to take off before attempting a landing.

The D.B. Cooper Award for Premature Evacuation
So many candidates, so little common sense. A month ago, a clearly unbalanced (and, it seems, unclothed) male passenger tried to open an emergency exit on a flight midway between Boston and Los Angeles. A week later, an intoxicated woman, refused additional libations, apparently tried to storm off a plane 30,000 feet over Austria. Fortunately for all concerned, neither was successful, and both were removed once their planes were diverted and safely back on solid ground.

Which means the Dotty goes to the Delta passenger, who apparently couldn’t wait to get off a plane in Georgetown, Guyana, earlier this summer. Having just flown first class from New York, he was apparently miffed that coach passengers were allowed to disembark before him. In response, he activated the plane’s emergency slide and zipped directly to the tarmac. Given the obnoxiously elitist nature of the offense, his Dotty will be delivered as soon as the judges can get Naomi Campbell to autograph it.

The Seth Rogen Award for, like, ummm, what was I saying?
Sorry, the judges got a little dizzy there. They were considering candidates when they came across two who were totally awesome. On the one hand, we have Mason Tvert of Denver, an advocate for legalizing marijuana, who suggests that letting passengers torch one before boarding would cut down on incidents of air rage. On the other, we have the enthusiastic Customs official at Tokyo’s Narita Airport who slipped five ounces of weed into a random passenger’s bag as part of a drill — and then proceeded to forget which bag it was in.

In the end, after much discussion and a box of Thin Mints, the judges agreed that Tvert should receive the award for his efforts to make flying a mellower, more pleasant experience for everyone. Whenever you’re ready, Mason, you can pick up your Dotty at the Japanese Customs Office at Narita. Just make sure you check the pockets.

And finally...
A spot in the Dotty Hall of Fame to the folks behind Derrie-Air, which introduced itself in June as the world’s first airline to charge passengers by weight . Operating under a policy of “the more you weigh, the more you pay,” the airline proposed a sliding fare scale pegged to passengers’ total weight (i.e., both personal bulk and baggage). Sample fares ranged from $1.40 per pound between Philadelphia and Chicago and $2.25 per pound between Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

The entire concept, of course, was fictitious, part of a faux ad campaign created by the owners of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News to test advertising response. Nevertheless, the judges have decided to honor all concerned for providing some comic relief and a momentary respite from the frightening prospect of sharing a flight with any of the other honorees.

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