I'd like to ask all investors who believe in value, fundamentals, growth, cash flow, and anything Warren Buffett has ever said to please move along to the next article.

I'm waiting. OK. Now that the only people left in the room are crazies like myself, let me pass along a patently ludicrous investment thought. Is it remotely possible that Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) could climb out of the hole -- a better description might be chasm -- it's dug itself into?

Everything we read suggests the answer is a resounding NO. Just yesterday the company starkly announced in its 10-Q filing that it "cannot assure that the anticipated benefits of our transformation plan will be achieved, or that these benefits, if achieved, will be adequate for us to maintain financial viability." It doesn't sound to me like the company is sugarcoating its problems.

Further evidence doesn't take a rocket scientist to uncover. Delta has been unprofitable for the last four years with an unfathomable loss of more than $5 billion last year. Operating cash flow was in the red by more than $1.1 billion, and the balance sheet displays the ugly reality of $5.5 billion in negative shareholders equity.

Need I say more? At this point, I give permission for even those of you who are certifiable to leave the room.

For anyone left, consider this. Delta, along with other mightily struggling air carriers like Northwest (NASDAQ:NWAC) and United (OTC: UALAQ), has enormous pension liabilities. Last week, the bankruptcy judge for United cleared the way for the company to transfer four underfunded employee pension plans to the federal government. The bankruptcy judge said the settlement would give United more "certainty about its future."

Now, the Bush administration has shown leanings against stepping in to save troubled companies, instead allowing competitive forces to work their will. I agree with the philosophy, by the way, but that's neither here nor there. But you have to think this action demonstrates that the government believes it has a vested interest in the eventual survival of some of these carriers.

Delta is the primary carrier out of Atlanta Hartsfield airport, the busiest passenger airport in the world. It will be a rude awakening one morning for a lot of travelers to get out of bed and discover all the Delta flights are cancelled.

I feel obligated to warn you I'm not an expert on the airline industry. Many people much smarter than me are evaluating the condition of Delta, and I don't see many of them rushing in to buy the shares. But I do recall that when American (NYSE:AMR) announced that it was heading for bankrupcy two years ago, the shares fell to around $2. It wasn't too long before the company found a solution to its woes, and the stock rose back up to around $10. Delta is trading between $2-3 now.

I don't advocate Delta as a "great company" to invest in. Current management has made it into a mere shadow of real players such as Southwest (NYSE:LUV). It's hard to imagine how it will get off the ground again. But if it does, someone might be able to make a few bucks by buying into the shares at this level. I present this merely as a possibility, something to explore and think about on your own, so do your own due diligence, of course. But still, I think Delta represents an interesting situation to consider.

Which airlines are earthbound, and which are soaring? Jet over to these Fool takes:

Fool contributor Timothy M. Otte thinks the only intelligent reason to get in an airplane is to replenish his stash of biscotti. He doesn't own shares of any of the companies mentioned in this article.