- "FUCK YOU, TORENO!!! I never want to go through this again! I think I'm gonna hurl..."
- — CJ's angry at Toreno.
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, his brother 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 ships 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. Another thing to note is that the S.A.M. sites will not shoot at the player anymore whenever flying over or near the Easter Basin Naval Station, but will still get a 5-star wanted level. Also, heavy weaponry will now spawn at Toreno's ranch, including a minigun, both versions of the rocket launcher, and the flamethrower.
- It may be noted that this is the only 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), CJ steals the Hydra from the Easter Basin Naval Station (San Fierro), and destroys spy ships in Tierra Robada and land 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.
- Usually, if the player enters the naval base, they attain a 5-star wanted level, but this does not apply in this mission.
- Tropics are used as the Spy Ships that Mike Toreno wants the player to destroy.
- If the player destroys all the other planes on the ship, only one enemy jet will give chase; however, if the player doesn't destroy any, three jets will give chase; if only one is destroyed, two will give chase.
- The mission is programmed to take place at night and have stormy weather, although using the weather cheat can change this.
- 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 the Mulholland district is right on the border to Red County and occasionally rural cars and expensive cars cross over in this area.
- A much easier way to complete the mission is to fly the Hydra to the airstrip in Verdant Meadows, then if you have 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.
- After the mission WCTR will announce breaking news of the Navy denying a stolen Hydra, despite eyewitnesses, and tax payers are not happy.
- One easy way to evade the three Hydras that give chase, is to hover beneath/between the Garver and Kincaid bridges. Doing this for a few moments will result in the three Hydras colliding with the bridges, getting them off your tail without the need for tricky aerial combat.
- In beta, you would have to drive all the way to the boat. This was changed because it would take a long time to get there with chance of wrecking the car.