Piltchard and Wren are the joint squadron commanders, and they love flying missions—they ask Cathcart to let them continue flying. Piltchard and Wren chastise Yossarian for turning back for such a feeble excuse as an intercom failure, and assign him as lead bombardier on the second mission over Bologna, which they also anticipate to be a “milk run.”
Piltchard and Wren are another example of two characters introduced by Heller but given very little to say or do. Their enthusiasm for battle mimics Havermeyer’s enthusiasm, although they, unlike Havermeyer, do not undergo a change of heart—they do not begin fearing combat.
This second run, however, is heavily defended by the Germans. Yossarian’s plane is beset by flak. Yossarian orders McWatt to begin evasive maneuvers, and the plane zooms around wildly, finally gaining higher altitude. Yossarian begins begging Aarfy, the ineffective navigator, to stop blocking the plane’s nose, so that Yossarian can escape from it himself. Aarfy claims not to be able to understand.
Once again: expect the unexpected. After being lulled into a false sense of security, Yossarian flies into Bologna and nearly dies. It is never explained why Aarfy pretends not to here Yossarian on the plane; perhaps he simply likes watching Yossarian gesticulate wildly during the bombing campaigns.
Yossarian continues yelling at Aarfy, but Aarfy does not budge. Yossarian orders more evasive maneuvers to be performed by McWatt. A piece of flak pierces the plane and causes Aarfy’s maps to be shredded to confetti. Aarfy finds the confetti beautiful, but Yossarian keeps barking orders at McWatt.
Aarfy, as before, is “too stupid” (and by his own admission) to fear his flights. His recognition of the beauty of the confetti points to his total placidity, even in the face of real danger.
They escape enemy fire, but other planes have been damaged in the strike. Yossarian realizes Orr has been hit, and he scans the horizon wildly for him, realizing that, if Orr dies, he will be deeply saddened. Yossarian finds Orr’s plane, damaged but maintaining altitude, and is relieved.
This is Yossarian’s first recognition of his affection for Orr. Up to this point, Yossarian has only complained about his roommate, whose strange ways of speaking and constant tinkering he finds annoying.
Yossarian waits until Orr returns—Orr’s plane struggles to a crash landing, but Orr is OK. Yossarian is exhausted and decides to hop a plane to Rome, for a rest-leave, in order to calm down.
Orr’s late return foreshadows his second raft-ride and total disappearance toward the end of the novel.