Thursday, June 17, 2010

Flight attendant takes over for sick co-pilot, helps land jet

To be honest, I would have preferred it if both pilots had been incapacitated and the flight attendant (aka stewardess) had had to land the plane herself. I remember as a kid seeing a Doug McClure/Roddy McDowall TV movie where just that thing occurred.

This story is not that heroic. The captain of the plane - which can be flown by one person - was perfectly healthy, so Patti DeLuna (61) stepped in and acted as co-pilot. She does have a pilot's license.

I'm all for giving women the praise they deserve, but one wonders, if the flight attendant in question had been a man, would they have made a story out of this? DeLuna was interviewed on TV and looked rather uncomfortable - she clearly didn't think it was a big deal. (Or she could have just been terrified of the cameras, I know I would have been!)

In any event, it does show that she did her job above and beyond the call of duty:

Flight attendant takes over for sick co-pilot, helps land jet
Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO – A flight attendant who has a pilot's license replaced an ill first officer during a landing at O'Hare International Airport this week.

Officials said the co-pilot of an American Airlines plane that departed San Francisco on Monday fell sick en route to Chicago.

After the pilot checked to see whether any off-duty pilots were on board, Patti DeLuna, 61, told him that she is a commercial pilot and was asked to sit in the right-hand seat in the cockpit.

DeLuna, who lives in California, helped the captain by reading off a checklist of procedures. She handled other tasks, in addition to providing a second set of eyes in the cockpit.

DeLuna was scheduled to be off work on Monday, but she was called in to replace another flight attendant for the trip from San Francisco to Chicago with 225 passengers on board.

The condition of the ill first officer, who is based in Chicago, was not serious, officials said. He was met on the ground at O'Hare by paramedics and transported to a local hospital, where he was treated and released.

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