Button, Button, Who's got the Button?

Like all the best good fortune, it just fell out of the sky.

Just in case you usually do the same thing I do, see the words "U.S. Military" and flip straight from the front page to the Weird News section, I'll fill you in.

During a training mission from Arizona to Colorado on April 2, Capt. Craig David Button broke away from a three-man flight formation in his A-10 Thunderbolt, which was carrying four bombs, with only five minutes of fuel remaining. After intensive searches the military could find no sign of the plane or the pilot, although now they think they may have found it in the Colorado mountains. At press time, they weren't exactly sure. Being Colorado, it's still snowing, and too treacherous to look too close.

This isn't the first three minutes of a "Sliders" episode, it's a real story about a plane vanishing from the big western sky. It could have been the biggest story since Christopher Columbus came back and said, "Wait, there's more."

There were more than a few theories about what happened to Capt. Button. One is that one of his wingmen probably radioed for "Capt. Buttmunch" and laughed once too often and he just ran off, blubbering in mystification, why, why were they always picking on him? (my theory). Then there was the theory that he stole the plane to sell the bombs. If I stole a pack of Lifesavers, the gomers at the Winn-Dixie would catch me. It's hard to believe the military could let a pilot walk away with an entire plane in his pocket.

Stealth bomber

Stealth bomber

Then there was the theory that he stole the plane and would drop those bombs in recognition of the April 19 anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. That is ridiculous. Second anniversary is paper or clocks or something, it isn't bombs, ask Hallmark.

Taking all this into account, and I know it's a lot, what with your concern about the Daytime Emmies, it's obvious what happened. At least I know what I would have liked to see happen. I would have liked to know that Capt. Button was snatched up by a UFO.

"You may call it nonsense if you like," the Queen said to Alice. "But I've heard nonsense compared with which that would be as sensible as a dictionary."

Capture by a UFO is a less nonsensical thing to believe than believing that the military could not find its own plane. They have spy satellites that can travel to Mars and tell by the color of your fillings how much coffee you drank today. They could find every piece of a DC-10 that exploded, rebuild the Titanic sunk for decades, find three dollars in tips that you didn't declare on your taxes in 1983, but they can't find an entire plane? If a plane exploded, I could even find it. "See that smoke over there? That there's yer plane," I'd say, collect my hefty consultant's fee and be off.

But consider where the plane disappeared. Just after flying over New Mexico. If it happened over Seattle, we'd think the plane just got depressed and did itself in. If it happened over the Everglades, we'd guess the military was buying its $9 million aircraft at a Valu-Jet everything-must-go sale. But New Mexico? Where Roswell is located? Area 51? Huh? Huh? I hate to go off on a Chris Carterian tangent, but there are things you think you're right about even though you have no proof. Add up enough coinkidinks and what you have is a fact.

Take me!

Take me!

And anyway, what would be the big deal if, in the headlines tomorrow, it said "U.S. AIRCRAFT INTERCEPTED BY UFO." There wouldn't be any 1950's-space-movie style national panic, no one on the local news grabbing their face and screaming in that Edvard Munch/"Home Alone" manner. Everyone who really hated their jobs would migrate to New Mexico. Everyone else would just watch TV to see what happens next, which is exactly what we all do now. There could be aliens walking around right this minute and you wouldn't even know it. As one reader from the far north wrote about the classic egg-headed, egg-eyed alien, "Everyone here looks like that. We're so pale we could make Casper look like a mulatto."

So, there are two things we could believe about Capt. Button's Excellent Adventure. One, that he got dragged off course by UFOs. It's the more fun explanation and after all, UFOs aren't like Santa or Jesus. They do not show up only if you believe. They either exist or they don't and what you think about it is completely immaterial, perfectly harmless and usually lots of fun to speculate about.

Or you could believe that the military, with all that money, power and technology at its disposal, couldn't locate one pilot, its own pilot, on its own turf, and the plane that went with him. To think that, you'd also have to believe they couldn't find their butt with two mirrors.

Personally, I'd rather believe the pleasant and highly unlikely over the likely and highly unpleasant. It's up to you to decide which explanation is more out of this world.