Pegasi aren't the only intelligent species which can fly, and the Wonderbolts recognize that. There is no racial restriction placed on the open tryout sessions and over the centuries, the team has had a few unusual members. They have proven methods of working with griffons, self-levitating unicorns — anything known to get in the air might find their place.
However, it's probably safe to say nopony was expecting a minotaur-sized duck.
This story provides examples of:
- Alliterative Title: Captains Crash
- Captain Crash: Launchpad, of course. Justified in that he's actually doing it deliberately, and the Wonderbolts theorize he has some kind of innate magical talent that assists him in always walking away from the crash unscathed. By the fic's end, he's been hired as an instructor at the Academy to teach its students how to crash safely, so they don't get hurt.
- Gentle Giant: He's minotaur-sized, may have some portion of that strength, and he's also the most naturally gregarious applicant anypony's ever seen.
- Gone Horribly Right: Hiring a Captain Crash to pass on his skills at crashing safely? Sure, he succeeds, so injuries go down. But he also causes his students to start forgetting their skills at landing without crashing, so incidences of crashes go up. By 390%.
- Lampshade Hanging: Launchpad comments on the frequency of the Meaningful Name within Equestria, and notes that if his own world followed the same kind of rule, he'd have been a lot more cautious about accepting an invitation to see a new invention by somebody called "Gearloose".
- Mad Scientist: Gyro Gearloose, as per his canon. Launchpad was stranded in Equestria by one of his inventions going wrong.
- Meaningful Name: The fact that ponies are prone to this, and Gyro Gearloose's own use of this, are both referred to in the fic itself.
- Motive Rant: When Spitfire chews Launchpad out on crashing deliberately, Launchpad goes onto one of these, explaining that half the people who attend airshows do so because they're hoping to see a crash — so, he puts on a show, then crashes deliberately, and he brings the audience coming back for more.
- New Technology is Evil: One of the Wonderbolts judging the contest, High Winds, is quietly aghast when she sees Launchpad's Jenny in operation, noting that if he can scale this technology up to carry cargo, he could put pegasus couriers out of business, something she has particular feelings about since most of her family are in that business. She's very briefly relieved when the plane goes down, which leaves Spitfire and Rainbow looking at her in abject horror.
- In the very first paragraph, Spitfire muses that "life is like a hurricane"; not only is this a direct quotation of the first line in the DuckTales cartoon intro, but it also calls to mind the famous "life is like a box of chocolates" intro from Forrest Gump.
- The title of the story stems from Rainbow Dash's hated childhood nickname.
- After Launchpad emerges from his crash, he proclaims himself "singed but triumphant," repeating himself a second time after tripping, and giving up on a third repetition after tripping again. This is a gag from Darkwing Duck, where Launchpad was a secondary protagonist.
- Stealth Pun: 'Jenny' happens to be the term for a female donkey.
- Steampunk: ZigZagging with Launchpad's Curtiss JN-4, or "Jenny"; a steam-powered biplane. It flies — and in fact, there were real-world experiments into steam-powered aircraft from the 1840s till the 1960s — but it's noted that it's very inefficient in terms of its power-to-weight ratio, which is the reason why the technology never got anywhere on Earth. Launchpad directly says he's using the modification because gasoline isn't available in Equestria. Ironically, a unicorn actually approached Twilight Sparkle about getting her patronage to explore the potential of a disel-fuel engine in the titular fic of the Triptych Continuum, and Twilight shot them down because she couldn't see the point when steam-power was already a thing.
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
- The Wonderbolts try-outs have no species restriction on entry, because pegasi aren't the only potential flyers on Equus. In practice, the only non-pegasi who've ever gotten onto the team have been griffons and the rare self-levitation-capable unicorn. They're not inherently opposed to technology: Spitfire mentions a minotaur who tried out using a hang glider. However, Equestrian tech hasn't produced anything like Launchpad's steam-powered Curtiss JN-4.
- After hearing Launchpad's explanation as to why he always crashes, Spitfire tells him that she can't take him as a Wonderbolts member, because whilst it's true that there are ghoulish individuals who do attend Wonderbolts shows in hopes of seeing nasty accidents, she loathes them and she's not going to feed their appetites. So, unless Launchpad trains himself out of the "crashing on purpose" mentality, she can't make a place for him on the team.