The goal was to get our weed from Colombia, load it into this gigantic plane, and fly it back to the states, where it would turn -- as if by magic -- into $4 or $5 million. Back in the 1970s, that was basically all the money, anywhere, ever.
I bought the plane with two dudes from Chicago, but none of us could fly the damn thing. So we found a young man who had 2,000 hours of professional experience with a two-engine plane. Ours was a four-engine, and he said, "Oh, it's no different. I read the book." Not knowing fuck-all about planes, I assumed that made sense. After all, how could four engines be less reliable than two? (The answer is, there are twice as many chances for something to go cock-eyed.)
Digital Vision/Photodisc/Getty Images
How complex could flying a commercial airplane really be?
So I volunteered to go with him and be the co-pilot, even though the only jobs I was qualified for were "drug smuggler," "drug user," and "band manager" (let's be honest -- that last one is really just the first two combined). We got an airstrip in Georgia, we took off, and halfway down we lost all our hydraulics. He asked me, "Would you rather crash in the U.S. or South America?" I said, "Nowhere, buddy." He said, "If you had to make a choice, though ..."
"And, hypothetically, if I had only packed one parachute ...?"