Pilot Suffers Heart Attack Mid-Flight

Old Jan 14, 14, 10:11 am
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Pilot Suffers Heart Attack Mid-Flight

When a flight's co-pilot makes an announcement asking “Does anyone in the cabin have flight experience?”, you know that it's time to ignore the IFE and pay attention to what's happening at the front of the plane.

On December 30th, 20 minutes into a flight from Des Moines, Iowa to Denver, Colorado, a passenger with medical training was rushing into the cockpit where she found the pilot slumped over and barely responsive. He'd experienced a heart attack shortly after takeoff.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/tr...id-flight.html

The copilot safely landed the plane at an airport in Omaha. The captain survived the incident.
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Old Jan 14, 14, 10:25 am
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Originally Posted by TravelingPeanut View Post
When a flight's co-pilot makes an announcement asking “Does anyone in the cabin have flight experience?”, you know that it's time to ignore the IFE and pay attention to what's happening at the front of the plane.
I cannot be the only one thinking "If only Ted Striker were on the plane", I just must be the first to post it.

Hope the captain has a speedy recovery.
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Old Jan 14, 14, 12:57 pm
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The avherald writeup of the incident is at http://avherald.com/h?article=46dd1b30&opt=1 .

Glad to hear the pilot is okay.
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Old Jan 14, 14, 1:07 pm
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Best wishes to the stricken pilot and hopes for a speedy recovery. I suffered a heart attack some years ago, and know what it feels like ... not good.

Originally Posted by TravelingPeanut View Post
When a flight's co-pilot makes an announcement asking “Does anyone in the cabin have flight experience?”, you know that it's time to ignore the IFE and pay attention to what's happening at the front of the plane.
With due respect to all involved, I suspect that the quote is either being mis-reported, or was a slip of the tongue, with the intention of asking for passengers with medical experience (which is what they got, per the article).

The First Officer ("Co-Pilot") of any commercial flight is more than capable of operating and landing a plane without help from a passenger. Asking a passenger into the cockpit in an emergency (for purposes of flying, rather than providing medical assistance) would be a highly questionable decision.

I hope that someone with insider knowledge will comment on this.
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Old Jan 14, 14, 1:26 pm
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Old Jan 14, 14, 1:26 pm
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Originally Posted by gnetwerker View Post
Best wishes to the stricken pilot and hopes for a speedy recovery. I suffered a heart attack some years ago, and know what it feels like ... not good.



With due respect to all involved, I suspect that the quote is either being mis-reported, or was a slip of the tongue, with the intention of asking for passengers with medical experience (which is what they got, per the article).

The First Officer ("Co-Pilot") of any commercial flight is more than capable of operating and landing a plane without help from a passenger. Asking a passenger into the cockpit in an emergency (for purposes of flying, rather than providing medical assistance) would be a highly questionable decision.

I hope that someone with insider knowledge will comment on this.
If I was in that situation I would also ask if there were any pilots on board. Mainly to assist with the non-flying pilot duties; checklist reading, basic ATC communications, etc. I wouldn't let them touch the controls but having an extra set of eyes up there certainly wouldn't hurt. It would definitely ease up the workload while the flying pilot handles the additional responsibilities.

It seems dramatic and is a great headline for the papers, "Is there another pilot on board" but in my opinion is a smart move using all available resources to get the plane down safely in an expeditious manner.
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Old Jan 14, 14, 2:11 pm
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Here's a link to a video from ABC13 in Houston on the Nurses that helped save the pilot's life. It shows passenger photos of some of the scene.

http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/video?id=9391254

Last edited by ontherun; Jan 14, 14 at 6:56 pm
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Old Jan 14, 14, 3:31 pm
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Originally Posted by gnetwerker View Post
Best wishes to the stricken pilot and hopes for a speedy recovery. I suffered a heart attack some years ago, and know what it feels like ... not good.



With due respect to all involved, I suspect that the quote is either being mis-reported, or was a slip of the tongue, with the intention of asking for passengers with medical experience (which is what they got, per the article).

The First Officer ("Co-Pilot") of any commercial flight is more than capable of operating and landing a plane without help from a passenger. Asking a passenger into the cockpit in an emergency (for purposes of flying, rather than providing medical assistance) would be a highly questionable decision.

I hope that someone with insider knowledge will comment on this.
I saw some interviews on the ground.

1. One of the nurses said she asked the co-pilot if he/she could land the plane. I did a facepalm on that one.
2. There was a ex-military pilot brought up as well, so yes, they *must have* asked for anyone with flight experience.

There is no doubt that the copilot could land the plane successfully. I gathered the "co-co-pilot pro-tem" was there to do things like read checklists and the like and function as the non-landing pilot. I sure wouldn't want him touching any dials or knobs.
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Old Jan 14, 14, 3:40 pm
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If this was a mainline or CR7 flight and I had been upgraded my response would've probably been "I pilot, I fly".
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Old Jan 14, 14, 3:44 pm
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Originally Posted by nevansm View Post
If this was a mainline or CR7 flight and I had been upgraded my response would've probably been "I pilot, I fly".
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Old Jan 14, 14, 4:54 pm
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Originally Posted by clubord View Post
If I was in that situation I would also ask if there were any pilots on board. Mainly to assist with the non-flying pilot duties; checklist reading, basic ATC communications, etc. I wouldn't let them touch the controls but having an extra set of eyes up there certainly wouldn't hurt. It would definitely ease up the workload while the flying pilot handles the additional responsibilities.
I agree. Having an extra set of hands/eyes/ears would be invaluable if you were diverting to an unfamiliar airport at night. This is above and beyond the personal stress that she must have been dealing with watching her colleague have a heart attack in the seat next to her.

This pilot did the right thing for every soul on board that aircraft. ^
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Old Jan 14, 14, 9:09 pm
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Originally Posted by gnetwerker View Post
With due respect to all involved, I suspect that the quote is either being mis-reported, or was a slip of the tongue, with the intention of asking for passengers with medical experience (which is what they got, per the article).

The First Officer ("Co-Pilot") of any commercial flight is more than capable of operating and landing a plane without help from a passenger. Asking a passenger into the cockpit in an emergency (for purposes of flying, rather than providing medical assistance) would be a highly questionable decision.
I don't see why it would be questionable - it would be the right thing to do. Pilot just saw her colleague have a heart attack, and on top of that stress now has to plan a diversion and then get the plane down quickly, possibly doing an instrument approach to get into the airport (I don't know what the weather was like at the time...) This is exactly the time when you want a two-person crew. I might be a GA pilot, but flying is flying. At a minimum I can sit and monitor if the plane is on course, on speed, at the correct altitude, avionics set up for the correct approach, checklists being followed, pilot flying the clearance issued by ATC, etc. These are all useful backups to what the flying pilot is doing that improve safety. Beyond minimum, I could fly - and land - a jet if needed (although I'll admit I would want the longest runway I could find, and it sure would be nice to have someone calling out target airspeeds to me!)

Now were it just any passenger, then yeah - no reason to just have a warm body in the seat. But a qualified pilot, particularly an instrument-rated pilot, would be an absolute benefit to have there.

My only question is, if there are multiple qualified pilots on board to help out in an emergency, does priority go according to status, then by fare paid? I keep my 1K card right next to my pilot's license in my wallet for just such an occasion.
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Old Jan 14, 14, 9:46 pm
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Originally Posted by jgreen1024 View Post
if there are multiple qualified pilots on board to help out in an emergency, does priority go according to status, then by fare paid?
If there was nobody with a type rating, I'd like to think my CFI certificate would carry some weight...
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Old Jan 14, 14, 10:15 pm
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Originally Posted by BE-58 View Post
I agree. Having an extra set of hands/eyes/ears would be invaluable if you were diverting to an unfamiliar airport at night. This is above and beyond the personal stress that she must have been dealing with watching her colleague have a heart attack in the seat next to her.

This pilot did the right thing for every soul on board that aircraft. ^
I would certainly hope a volunteer is not being called to help fly a plane I am in. Aside from the question of security, having an unvetted volunteer in the cock-pit, who is to know the competence of this rookie captain and whether he can harm, rather than enhance, the ability of the copilot to land the plane safely. I think if you had a known active but off-duty commercial pilot (preferably with same airline) on board then fine but otherwise I would want to take my chance with the copilot landing solo, as he or she is trained to do.
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Old Jan 15, 14, 2:34 am
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Originally Posted by ani90 View Post
I would certainly hope a volunteer is not being called to help fly a plane I am in. Aside from the question of security, having an unvetted volunteer in the cock-pit, who is to know the competence of this rookie captain and whether he can harm, rather than enhance, the ability of the copilot to land the plane safely. I think if you had a known active but off-duty commercial pilot (preferably with same airline) on board then fine but otherwise I would want to take my chance with the copilot landing solo, as he or she is trained to do.
Having two people in the cockpit greatly reduces the chances of something going wrong. Theres a lot of things that have to happen for a diversion, and when you only have one pilot, lots can happen.

All passengers are vetted before they board the aircraft...that's what airport security is. If somebody randomly out of the blue is going to decide to do something bad, well then we have bigger problems.

And remember, nobody actually "flies" the plane until a few minutes before touchdown. Its all run thru the computer. FAs sit in for pilots all the time when pilots go to relieve themselves, its not to fill up space in the cockpit, its to have a second person there in case something unexpected happens to help.

but we're getting off topic. I'm glad the pilot survived. Moral of the story, everyone on an airplane needs to carry aspirin. Greatly increases your chances of surviving a heart attack.
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