- Toreno: "Would you like to see your brother this week?"
- Carl: "Yeah! What can I do?"
- Toreno: "You just gotta steal a military jet off an amphibious assault ship and use it to destroy a flotilla of spy ships. Nothing big."
- —Mike Toreno gives Carl Johnson his mission
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.
After reclaiming the mansion from the Vagos, Carl returns to the mansion, where he listens to Madd Dogg performing in his recording studio with Kent Paul and Maccer. All of a sudden, the audio is cut off and Toreno's voice is heard on the speakers, requesting that Carl meet him outside the mansion. Carl leaves Paul, Maccer and Dogg in the studio and enters Toreno's Washington outside.
Toreno drives Carl to the northern shore of Red County. Requesting another job to be performed for him in exchange for Sweet's release from prison, Toreno demands that Carl sneak inside a amphibious assault ship in the Easter Basin Naval Station to steal a Hydra VTOL jet to destroy a flotilla of spy ships. Carl hops in a Squalo speedboat containing a knife and a silenced pistol, and heads for the naval base. Carl enters the ship through the rear, where he has the option to either blast his way in, or sneak inside the ship using his equipment. Regardless, Carl disables the ship's S.A.M. sites and steals one of the Hydras.
Shortly afterwards, a group of Hydras are dispatched to shoot down Carl's aircraft. Toreno tells Carl not to worry about it, stating that a shootdown would cause an international incident. Carl destroys the pursuing aircraft and flies towards the Sherman Reservoir where he uses the Hydra's weaponry to destroy the Tropic spy ships, as Toreno requested. With his task completed, an infuriated Carl now asks Toreno what to do with the jet, but Toreno tells Carl that it is his problem. Carl flies the aircraft back to the Verdant Meadows airfield, where he taxis the jet into one of the hangars, completing the mission.
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
- All of the guards aboard the LHD-069 - Killed by Carl Johnson in order to steal a Hydra VTOL jet.
- Pilots of enemy Hydra VTOL jets - Killed by Carl Johnson for attempting to kill him for stealing one of the Hydras.
- Unknown personnel aboard the Tropic spy ships - Killed by Carl Johnson with a Hydra jet under the orders of Mike Toreno.
The Hydra will now permanently spawn in the westernmost hangar of Verdant Meadows. As well, one is found on the aircraft carrier's flight deck, and two are found onto Area 69's tarmac, although both areas are restricted and the player will earn a 5-star wanted level for trespassing. 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 hangar. 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.
After the mission
A WCTR news bulletin announces that several eyewitnesses witnessed the Hydra being stolen from the Naval Base. However, this is denied by the Navy.
- This is the only storyline mission 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), Carl 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).
- 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.
- In the beta, Carl would have to drive all the way to the boat.
- The S.A.M. 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.
- This is the only time where the Hydras are pilotted by military. Outside of this mission, they are operated by police officers of a specific city/region that they spawned from.