Pilot's In-Flight Heart Attack Gives Us Yet Another Reason to Fear Flying

planeThere are so many things we worry about when flying these days. Those concerns range from the annoying (endless flight delays and cancellations) to the truly frightening (terrorism and the plane malfunctioning). Well, passengers on a United Airlines flight from Houston to Seattle can add a new dread to that list.

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In the middle of the flight, their pilot suffered a heart attack and died. I personally never sit through a takeoff without praying first. But one thing I never envision is the pilot actually dying in mid-air.

Passengers were alerted to a problem after repeated in-flight announcements asking if there was a physician on board. After a call to air traffic control, the flight was diverted to Boise and made an emergency landing. The recorded message was chilling: "We got a man down, chest compressions going on right now. I’m not sure too much right now the status ... Can an ambulance and maybe some air stairs meet us on the runway?"

Right now, it's unclear if a co-pilot or auto-pilot guided the plane in, but thankfully it landed safely. What a scary situation. How do you protect the flight against a freak occurrence like that? Fortunately, it sounds like the crew stayed calm and collected -- which goes a long way to making the passengers feel like everything will be okay.

Have you ever had a scary flight experience?

 

Image via Gordon Werner/Flickr

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