Napping Pilot Mistakes Planet Venus for Aircraft & Almost Crashes Plane (VIDEO)

air canadaPassengers on an Air Canada flight from Toronto to Zurich had the scare of their lives in January 2011 when their aircraft suddenly made a drastic nose dive and left many of them injured. The flight was no doubt terrifying, but perhaps the freakiest part of the incident lies in new information contained in a report released by the Transportation Safety Board in Canada as to what caused the plane to dip. It turns out that it happened as a result of a napping pilot who woke up, spotted the planet Venus, and thought he was about to have a mid-air collision with another aircraft. In an effort to avoid "the crash," he sent the plane into a nose dive.

Seriously -- what is up with all of the crazy things that are happening in the world of air travel these days?! Remember when getting on a plane was exciting and glamorous, not to mention luxurious? Yeah -- not anymore.


From pilots freaking out mid-flight and telling passengers that the plane is about to go down to flight attendants having nervous breakdowns instead of offering complimentary beverages, and now to pilots sleeping on the job and being unable to tell the difference between a major component of the solar system and another airplane, I'm definitely not too concerned with maintaining my elite frequent flier status at this point. Good grief. Maybe I'll just take trains from now on.

And even if I do brave the cattle call that air travel has inevitably become, I may think twice about getting on a trans-Atlantic flight. Because apparently pilots taking naps while crossing the ocean is kind of a standard thing. They are allowed to take periods of "controlled rest" for up to 40 minutes to recharge their batteries (so to speak), but this particular first officer was out for a good 75 minutes. (He must have been having some really sweet dreams.)

When he woke up, he realized that an Air Force C-17 plane was in their airspace, so when he saw the planet Venus glowing ahead of him, he figured a mid-air collision was about to occur. He sent the plane into a dive, and luckily, the captain realized what was going on and was able to bring it back up to altitude.

The plane did eventually make it to Zurich in one piece, but several passengers were thrown from their seats, hit the ceiling, and landed back on the airplane floor during the incident. That's some pretty serious turbulence. If I had to guess, I'd say none of them took another trans-Atlantic flight for quite some time after their terrifying ride. And when and if they eventually did, I hope they brought some No-Doz for the flight crew.

Check out the video clip below to hear more about what happened.

Have you ever had anything really scary happen on a flight?


Image via PhillipC/Flickr

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