BOCA RATON -- Some critics have dismissed
the TV game show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? as a trivia game for
dummies, but no one can say that about a version for local pilots
called ``Who Wants To Be An Aireman?''
The ``Million-aire'' takeoff was created by the
Federal Aviation Administration's Fort Lauderdale office for
teaching safety to pilots and plane mechanics.
In the FAA's version, contestants are asked questions about the
weather, federal flight safety regulations and runway light signals.
The FAA tried the game Saturday morning on about 200 pilots and
mechanics at the Muvico Palace 20, near the Boca Raton Airport.
Contestants vied for top prizes such as vacation trips donated by
South Florida businesses, but the questions were so difficult that
most participants were knocked out early, walking away with T-shirts
and $15 gift certificates to restaurants.
The FAA spent more than four months preparing the two-hour safety
game show, even going so far in its quest for authenticity as to
seek (and receive) permission to use the TV show's format and sound
effects from Buena Vista Studios in Hollywood, said Cary Mendelsohn,
safety program manager at the FAA's Flight Standards District Office
in Fort Lauderdale.
The FAA's local district office includes Broward, Palm Beach,
Martin, Glades and Hendry counties, and some 19,000 pilots and
``It's not always easy to give people the incentive to get back
into the books, when they have their rating in their pocket,''
Mendelsohn played the role of Regis Philbin Saturday, making sure
to ask participants, ``Is that your final answer?'' When a player
was stumped -- which was often -- he had one chance to seek help
from a friend, from the audience and to eliminate two of the wrong
The top award Saturday morning was a $200 pilot's headset, won by
Marc Zeldes, a 36-year-old helicopter pilot from Fort Lauderdale.
Zeldes came spoiling for a dogfight against his airborne
colleagues. ``I was out there to win,'' he said. ``I came with an