If you ever saw the movie Airplane, the spoof on airplane disaster movies, you probably still laugh out loud thinking about it. Remember the scene when Julie Hagerty took over for the co-pilot but had to fight off the automatic co-pilot who was a blow-up doll? She was trying to help Striker (Robert Hays) land the plane.
That was a spoof.
In a real life story, a female flight attendant recently came to the assistance of a Boeing 767 commander after the co-pilot had a mental meltdown. On an Air Canada flight from Toronto to London’s Heathrow, the co-pilot, who had shown up for the flight acting slightly flustered and on edge — not his usual outgoing, chipper self — lost most of his marbles over the Atlantic.
After the co-pilot became increasingly belligerent and erratic, and refused to move from his seat, the flight commander asked the crew to help remove the co-pilot from his seat.
Once the co-pilot was removed — into the capable hands of doctors who happened to be on board — the flight attendant took over the co-pilot’s job. She had a commercial pilot’s license, thus was a huge help to the commander. The flight was diverted to Shannon Airport in Ireland where she helped land the plane. Upon arrival, the co-pilot spent 11 days in a mental hospital before being transported back to Canada.
Although this real-life drama happened this past January, the investigation has just been completed. The commander and flight attendant were found to be heroes, although that term wasn’t used in the official report.
The official report is an interesting read about how decisions are made in the air to keep both passengers and crew safe. It’s a PDF file and was sent along by Gadling’s own Kent Wien who has the insider track to about everything.