Vertical Bird is a mission in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, given to protagonist Carl Johnson by government agent Mike Toreno from Madd Dogg's Crib at the Mulholland district of Los Santos, San Andreas.
Carl drops by Madd Dogg's Crib in Mulholland, his "new" home, and listens to Madd Dogg while he's rapping after having recovered from the suicide attempt. All of a sudden, all the audio is cut off and Mike Toreno's voice is heard. He tells Carl to come out of the mansion. He does so, and finds Toreno. He gets inside the car with Toreno, who has one more job needing to be done. This job is to steal a military jet off an aircraft carrier, and to use the jet to destroy a flotilla of spy ships. Toreno says if he does this job, Sweet will be released from prison. CJ agrees and hops on a speedboat docked on the water with a knife and a Silenced 9mm in it.
He heads over to the Easter Basin Naval Station in Easter Basin, San Fierro, all while Toreno is guiding him, telling him to sneak inside the carrier. Carl then gets off the boat and swims inside the carrier, but now, Toreno cannot help him. (Once inside, the player can choose to either stealthily and silently make their way to the carrier deck, or loudly blast their way there). Carl makes his way towards the flight deck, and disables the S.A.M. sites. Carl then kills the remaining soldiers and proceeds to steal a Hydra, just as Toreno asked him to do.
Toreno now reminds Carl that he has to head over to Tierra Robada and destroy five spy ships with the Hydra's missiles; however, other jets start to follow him in the air. He, however, successfully manages to destroy the enemy jets. He then proceeds to destroy the five spy ships moored out in the waters. Carl, infuriated, now asks Toreno what to do with the jet. Since Toreno doesn't want to deal with the jet, Carl just lands and parks the jet at a hangar in Verdant Meadows.
In order to complete the mission the player must:
- There's a silenced pistol and a knife in the speedboat
- Head for the ship
- Get inside the ship before the rear door closes. Swimming will help avoid detcetion by the guards
- Find the control room to switch off the SAM sites
- Steal one of the military jets
- There are military jets on your tail. Take them out
- All enemy jets are destroyed. Now destroy the spy ships
- Take the jet to the desert airfield and land anywhere on the landing strip
Upon completing this mission, the player is rewarded with $50,000 and an increase in respect. The mission Home Coming is unlocked. Also, the Hydra is always available at the hangar in Verdant Meadows. Also, heavy weaponry will now spawn at Toreno's ranch, including a minigun, both versions of the rocket launcher, and the flamethrower.
- There are a total of four Hydra aircraft on the ship. One is already on the flight deck and will take off immediately if the player reaches the doorway to the flight deck at the top of the stairs. It cannot be damaged at this point as the mission script dictates that at least one jet will chase the player. Two of the jets located at the stern can be destroyed before the player steals the third. If the player does not destroy the remaining jets, they will join the pursuit.
- A much easier way to complete the mission is to fly the Hydra to the airstrip in Verdant Meadows, then, if the player has a Heat Seeking Rocket Launcher or a minigun, go back to where the spy ships are, bomb the spy ships and if needed, the jets as well. Then go back to the airstrip and climb back into the Hydra and drive it into the hanger. This can be useful for people who find flying a Hydra difficult.
- One easy way to evade the three Hydras that give chase is to hover beneath/between the Garver or Kincaid bridges. Doing this for a few moments will result in the three Hydras colliding with the bridges and being destroyed without the need for tricky aerial combat.
- As the wanted level is disabled during the mission, this is a good opportunity to collect the two Oysters located close to the naval base, before approaching the rear of the aircraft carrier.
- It may be noted that this is one of the two missions that takes place across each of the three major areas in the State of San Andreas. It starts at Madd Dogg's Crib (Los Santos), CJ steals the Hydra from the Easter Basin Naval Station (San Fierro), destroys spy ships in Tierra Robada and lands the jet at Verdant Meadows (Las Venturas). Appropriately, this is the last mission in the game (assuming one has completed the San Fierro-based Zero strand) to take place significantly outside of Los Santos; all remaining missions focus on that city.
- The only mission that covers more distance is the second Beat The Cock! triathalon. It starts in Palomino Creek, traverses the countryside and requires the player to enter San Fierro, Bayside and Las Venturas proper, the latter two requiring a passage through the desert.
- It is also one of few missions to take the player across every island, the others being the GTA III mission Espresso-2-Go! which takes Claude to Portland Island, Staunton Island and Shoreside Vale, the GTA VC missions Two Bit Hit, Sir, Yes Sir! and The Job both of which are triggered from Vice City Beach and takes Tommy Vercetti to the Mainland, and the GTA VCS mission From Zero to Hero.
- Usually, if the player enters the naval base, they obtain a 5-star wanted level, but this does not apply in this mission.
- Similar to Area 69, this is the only mission where the area is inhabited by military personnel.
- The mission is scripted to take place at night and have stormy weather.
- The default radio station in the Washington is WCTR, but when Carl and Toreno enter Toreno's car, K Rose is playing. This could be due to the fact that Mulholland is right on the border with Red County and occasionally rural cars and expensive cars cross over in this area.
- After the mission, WCTR will announce breaking news of the Navy denying a stolen Hydra, despite eyewitnesses, and tax payers are not happy.
- In the beta, Carl would have to drive all the way to the boat. This was changed because it would take a long time to make it to the coast with the possibility of destroying the car along the way.
- This is the only known mission wherein the player does not drive the car owned by another character (Mike Toreno's Washington) to a target destination with the owner in the passenger seat as Mike Toreno himself drives CJ to the target area. It is also one of two missions wherein the driving only takes place within a cutscene and the player and another character(s) immediately arrive at their destination, the other being Big Smoke's introduction mission.
- The SAM sites on the aircraft carrier are mission-exclusive, and will remain inactive out of the mission, regardless of whether they were deactivated or not by the player during the mission.