LEARJET Television Series Writers Guidelines
By Russell Scott Day – all rights reserved
SETTING: The F.B.O. (Fixed Base Operator, doctor coming from a time before pilots had fixed bases, herbal in fact at the change from barnstormer to based operator).
F.B.O.s are the private side of aviation. In short, herbal an F.B.O. is a gas station for airplanes. They are more than just gas stations, though, hearkening back to the sort of society that revolved around the livery before the advent of the automobile or possibly still as revolves around the only gas station in a small town. There may be anywhere from one to 80 souls around. They will be typically either pilots or passengers or service personnel. The only constantly present characters will be from the line service, those persons who perform the mundane duties of fetching and fueling.
The coffee pot is the point to which all travel like bees to a flower. Pilots hang around for the obvious reason, namely that they want to fly. Their degree of certification will determine what sort of specific activity they may be there for at any specific time. Some of the time they are just there like birds on a wire. There will be Student Pilots, Flight Instructors, Charter Pilots, Freighter Pilots, Private Pilots, and the Airline Pilots (they may as well be gods to the rest of them for their status of mastery and means). Pilots hangar fly, talking of crashes, memorable flights, and scandals. They flirt with the girl at the switchboard, they jockey for positions and power in hopes of attaining the left seat of their dreams. Often the women compete for the affections of the powerful and handsome on their way up the ladder. Some women will also be competing as pilots. The problems of women in this setting will be similar to those of women or blacks attempting to break into areas of traditional male or White male dominance.
The operation of aircraft is expensive, and from that fact flow situations of temptation.
The stories of LEARJET revolve around the F.B.O. as characters make connections, impress those in power, or find ways to add up time in the air. Certain flights will go out everyday, as in the case of small commuters, or the Couriers that fly bank checks to out of town upstream banks. Usually those flights go out at night.
Certain sorts of freight are either regular or by charter.
The guys on Line Service will be trying to build up time almost any way they can. The Instructors will have come most often from their ranks, and be closer to the bottom.
At some point, all that fly, fly purely for the love of it. Some will lie and cheat and betray in pursuit of the experience of it. They will win or lose by health or endurance or character, or lack of it. Each individual character will end up in command of a particular plane in relation to their skills and luck, professionally, and those aspects of their personalities that inhibit or expand their horizons.
The Planes may be filled with spitting chickens, or newspapers, or camera crews and equipment, or rolls of denim. Oil drilling equipment, or chemicals, medical samples, or money, contraband, flowers, or fish, could be the cargo.
Each different cargo dictates a different set of pilots and problems.
The Freighters will be carrying cargos. Often Freighters are old retired from passenger service, and rare.
-Freighters dripping oil, engines on the edge of their time, engines running on thousands of gallons of explosive gasoline. Freighters are old airplanes for the most part, DC 3s, DC 4s, DC 6s, Beech 18s, and others.
Pipers Cessnas and Beechcraft are used by students and private pilots to get lost in, go see their girlfriends, or take pictures from. Small businessmen and doctors fly them to the beach or to the mountains, finding a thousand ways and reasons to triumph or crash. Then there are the sleek business jets, the mini airliners of the rich and powerful; The passengers either owning the plane and being the pilot, or chartering it with bags of money. They may be rock stars carousing and arguing with their girlfriends or agents in the back, spending money as if it were limitless, and running into mountains or out of money as their careers fade.
There are flights of smugglers, and spies, smuggling drugs or money or weapons. They are chased and investigated by the pilots of the law, sometimes even shot down by disgruntled customs agents of South American countries over neglected payoffs or slighted pride.
One side or the other is much the same in their code of violence and judgment.
On a regular basis day in and day out, people who are sick or damaged by car wreck or industrial accident or mishap on honeymoon are rushed to particular hospitals with tubes stuck in near every orifice from FBOs.
A LIST OF CHARACTERS
Instructors John Rowl – John Rowl is a slick good-natured sort of guy. He is unashamedly lazy, or makes an act of it to have his working seem more of a sacrifice. He will take on almost any kind of flight, legal or illegal. He is a good pilot and great company. His sort of girl tends towards looks, not brains by his design, as getting involved is not in his plans. He drinks heavily, but won’t do drugs, even if he is flying them around. His aim is to fly a Learjet and all his mechanizations are directed at that goal. He is twenty-two with 400 hours.
Tim Hartley (Timmy) – Timmy is a naïve young pilot of twenty. He lives at home. He can’t ever make it with a girl. If he drinks he gets sick. The only thing he can do is fly, and teach others to fly. He is ugly. He always wears ill-fitting or funny clothes. He is completely dedicated to teaching others to fly. He is very serious about doing it right, but has a streak of juvenile humor a mile wide. He gets the most difficult students that John Rowl or others don’t want.
Charter Pilots Phil Orr – Phil is a patriotic Texan that looks as straight as an arrow, but is really up for just about anything. He has a steady girl, but he runs around in a classically chauvinistic manner. His friends are out of the ordinary being young CIA, artists, or eccentric bankers. The common for him and his friends thing being a pursuit of power in a gleeful or dangerous way. Of all the others he has what it takes to get on with the airlines, but somehow is thwarted by odd circumstances or the demands of his many friends. He likes to tell stories about people to the naïve that cause humorous events.
Dan Dodd – Dan is an ex-football player that paid for all his certificates from his football playing after an injury that put him out of the game. He flies Learjets for charter, actually owning the one he flies. He is a happy jock. He has a cute jock’s wife and a young baby. He is a family man. More often than not, women come on to him. Mostly he fends them off, but every now and then succumbs, and then is racked by guilt, which he assuages in some way of another. He and Phil Orr are friends. He is a cautious and lively pilot in the cockpit.
Dick Vincent – Dick is a sometimes charter pilot and full-time salesman. Dick Vincent is a sneaky son of a bitch. He is a playboy in a manipulative lying style. He drives a Corvette, which he is constantly scratching or denting. He will do or say anything to sell a plane. He looks down on just about everyone around him. Often he is in league with the President of the F.B.O., George Hanrahan, who doesn’t like him, but uses him to sell airplanes.
George Martin Hanrahan – George Martin Hanrahan is a rich and powerful man. He owns the F.B.O. and three Learjets, besides other planes and properties. He has a way of making deals that are decidedly in his favor. He is cheap. He is an asshole in the manner in which he treats his subordinates and his secretaries. His secretaries are constantly quitting. He wonders why. His humor is vicious and belittling. He is quite happy with himself and plays the people around him off of each other. He is the King of the Ramp. He makes his judgments in the pursuit of money. He would have someone killed to that end if he thought he could get away with it. He will bully and threaten just about anyone. He has hired his son, named Junior, into a superfluous job that actually consists of errands, with a title. There are rumors about his past involving various crimes, such as smuggling. He has a wife, and a mistress.
Tom Harry – Chief Pilot lives at the airport. He is in his mid 50s and has flown every sort of executive jet or aircraft. He smokes incessantly. He is the Learjet Captain for most flights. He is very straight, still calls his wife his “Bride”, and cannot take off-color jokes. He has power over the upward movement of the Instructors and Charter pilots and is the foil between them and Hanrahan, moving those up that he regards as the best. Tom is happy with himself and believes himself an accomplished professional, which he is. He borders on the priggish in his complaints. Some co-pilots are infuriated by his lack of humor and nitpicking, which they feel guilty for when he does things for their benefit.
Bill Aiken – Chief Instructor – Bill is a retired redneck Navy pilot. He is wild at night and wild in a plane. He doesn’t care what anyone thinks of him. He often complains about his wife and how she spends money or drives, or her friends, but in her presence is attached and affectionate. He gambles. He likes to tell war stories and has a wealth of crash stories with all sorts of matter-of-fact gore or mayhem in their detail. He likes to frighten students in planes with dangerous maneuvers.
*Besides these characters described there may be a good number of Instructors, Charter Pilots, Students, and passengers that come and go, either by cause of enterprise, accident, jail, or better professional offer.
Receptionists, Switchboard Operators, Line Service, & Mechanics
Sandy Jo Curtis – Sandy Jo is the oldest of the receptionists. She could run the whole place. She is divorced and has no intentions of getting married again. She is fair in her management of the others in her department. She is not as respected as she might be if she wasn’t so willing to go to bed with pilots that she takes a fancy to. They are mostly the pilots that are transient, meaning not based there. Married, divorced, single, young, or old, she regards them as her perk of the job. No matter what, however, she fields the phone calls and pushes the linemen and keeps things moving.
Betsy Ann Twilly – Betsy Ann is a young flaky girl. She gets into weird fashions. She is always in some kind of trauma or jam. She has no common sense whatsoever.
Mary Elizabeth Anderson – Mary Elizabeth Anderson is smart, sophisticated, gorgeous, and cynical. She has degrees in Business and Philosophy and rarely will go out with any man who cannot challenge her. She is the only one of the women who will become a successful pilot as the series progresses.
Line Service – Line Service includes the General Manager of the F.B.O., the receptionists, switchboard operators, and all of the guys that fuel the aircraft and do all of the dirty work. All your crazies are on Line Service. They may or may not have an interest, or be pursuing a career as pilots. Young punks, college students, and sometimes old failures will be engaged in fueling, cleaning, and fetching. Some of them will make it, and some not.
Mechanics – The mechanics have a lot of power because without them, the planes don’t fly. They are generally crude in their speech and habit. They make life and death decisions every day, especially in relation to the older planes. The Chief Mechanic Bill Tork runs them with an odd touch of firmness and laxity.
LEARJET CHARACTERS AND SETTING -Guide for Television Staff and Freelance Writers.
Russell Scott Day/Rewritten from original 1/23/05
Rewritten again 1/23/07