Short Final: Groan Alert


Several years ago at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, I was one of a group of a half-dozen or so journalists—including the distinguished Peter Lert— passing the time of day chatting near the press headquarters. [If anyone else who was there reads this post, please corroborate that this is a true story in the comment section below.]

As we stood there, a friend of one of the group walked by carrying a vintage aircraft tail lamp assembly that he had just picked up at the Fly Market. Caked in dust and grime, it clearly looked like it had been sitting around someone’s hangar for decades. Apparently, our friend was working on a restoration and thought he might have found just the diamond in the rough he needed. But he seemed unsure the unit was reviveable. Maybe he had just squandered good money after bad.

Upon hearing uncertainty in his voice, Peter called us all together to gather ‘round in a tight circle and reach into the huddle to stroke the potential treasure. We all did what Peter asked, not having any idea why.

After a short, awkward silence, he said, “Surely, you all know the old Chinese proverb. ‘Many hands make light work!’”

Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. Actually funny, mild groaner. If I may offer a potential aviation-themed groaner of my own?…

    Some of you may remember years ago the NPR show ‘Car talk’, with Click and Clack (Tom and Ray Magliozzi), the Tappet Brothers, who told a story once about an elderly woman with thick glasses that had arrived from Phoenix on a Delta flight and was looking for her dog. The baggage office found the dog, but it was dead in its travel cage. The quick thinking manager texted the nearby pound and a suitable replacement was found. The dogs were swapped and presented to the woman. She gasped and asked “how did you do that?” The manager thought the jig was up but stayed mum. The woman continued, “I was bringing my dog home to be buried and now he’s alive and well!” 😟

  2. Yes, it’s true.

    That said, at the risk of being ex-, rather than dis- tinguished, I must admit that I stole the pun (“imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”) from science fiction author and incorrigible punster Spider Robinson, who in the novel “Lady Slings the Booze” (see what I mean?) has a Native American electrician named “Many Hands.”

    I might add that AFAIK, puns and similar non sequiturs are the only forms of humor that are not funny at the expense of someone or something else’s misfortune. Except for those who are exposed to the pun, of course.