USAF Capt. lands airliner after pilot’s heart attack

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by Newscience, Jun 4, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    USAF Capt. lands airliner after pilot’s heart attack

    Last December, the following announcement was made over the intercom on the United Airlines flight from Des Moines to Denver: "Can anyone fly the plane?".

    An Air Force pilot (Capt Mike Gongol) who was a passenger came to the rescue!

    Read the story here:

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jun/3/does-anyone-know-how-fly-plane-air-force-captain-h/

    Watch the video interview with Capt Gongol here:

    http://news.msn.com/videos/?ap=True&videoid=2b32cd53-1394-4bc8-8325-f13ac08db61e&from=en-us_msnhp
     
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  2. LETTERBOY
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    LETTERBOY Gold Member

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    Surprised it took so long for the story to come out.

    It would've been great if his name was Ted Striker, though. :D
     
  3. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    From what I read elsewhere yesterday, the first officer landed the plane (as in, was at the controls of the plane while the Air Force pilot was assisting with comms.

    And the announcement made by the FAs in that story wasn't "can anyone fly this plane", but rather something like "is there a pilot onboard". Subtle differences.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2014
  4. mikeef
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    mikeef Silver Member

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    Not an announcement I want to hear on my flight. Even worse than those ones that begin, "Well, folks..."

    Mike
     
  5. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    Yes, subtle differences. And I'd suspect that the "pucker factor" would be quite high for passengers, with either announcement, or no matter how the announcement was actually worded.
     
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  6. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    I suspect that this story was deliberately sat on for a while, given the potential economic and "fear factors" for United Airlines.

    Hey, perhaps Captain Gogol's "flight handle" is "Striker"! ;)
     
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  7. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    For the longest time, my wife has been a "white-knuckle" flyer. It happened after a plane from Rio to Miami that she was on made an emergency landing in San Juan after one of the plane's engines caught on fire.

    FWIW, she tells me that the FA's handed out free drinks, and the guy sitting next to her had an "accident" in his trousers. While the plane was landing, she could see the ambulances and fire engines lined up near the runway. Not a flight that she is likely to forget anytime soon, and I suspect the same is true for this particular United Airlines flight's passengers.
     
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  8. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    Surpassing odd, I think. An FA could handle radios if that were an issue. A random self-described pilot would not be of much use more than that unless it happened to be somebody typed in the aircraft or a similar one who also was current, more or less. An announcement to any similar effect sounds very stupid to me, at a minimum. I do not mean to denigrate the Air Force pilot in any way at all, since the person helped deliver a safe outcome. Still, any B737 can be quite safely landed with a single pilot, and declaring an emergency would be appropriate and would act to eliminate lots of uncertainty. I was not there and should not second-guess the events, but it certainly seemed strange to make such an announcement.
     
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  9. B1BomberVB

    B1BomberVB Silver Member

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    Newscience, I thought that such an "accident" in his trousers was just a figure of speech! ;) But wow! He literally did!
     
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  10. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    Yeah, and I guess that you had to be there to judge the event. Let's face it, having the airplane's engine on fire and making an emergency landing (while FAs hand out free drinks!) doesn't always bring out the best in folks...
     
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  11. FortFun
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    IIRC one version I read said the announcement was to ask if there were any non-rev pilots on the plane. That I can understand, since if there happened to be a UA 737 pilot non-revving it would be more convenient to have him/her up front. In general, the reporting of this story is pretty weak from what I've seen, though perhaps not any less weak than the normal bar in the era of 24h news space to fill.
     
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  12. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    Handing out free alcoholic drinks while preparing the cabin for an emergency landing seems... strange.
     
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  13. zippypinhead

    zippypinhead Gold Member

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    Short blurb on the local news that the pilot and his family were flown gratis into cle. They're house hunting a bit south of here. Sounded like he was now Air National Guard which flies out of Mansfield.
     
  14. Flyer1976
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    That's an nice gesture on United's part.
     
  15. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    That was many years ago. Flight "etiquette" and rules have changed a bit since that time!
     
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  16. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    Did they at least serve the flight deck crew first? :eek:
     
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  17. Counsellor
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    Yeah! It's no fun being in a crisis anymore. :rolleyes:
     
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  18. LETTERBOY
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    Given the tendency towards sensationalizing news coverage these days, you'd think the media would be all over something like this like flies on s***. They'd have little, if any, incentive to care about the effect this would have on UA. Secondly, there's no way anyone would be able to control what the passengers do/say once they got off the plane. You'd have to think that at least some of them were aware of what was happening. Finally, the USAF would probably want to milk this for any good publicity they could get. That would help them on Capitol Hill, especially in this era of shrinking budgets.

    All in all, it's extremely surprising, IMO, that we're only hearing about this now.
     
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  19. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    But I'd vote for free lifetime flying privileges on United Airlines for this fellow! :p
     
  20. rggale
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    A-la million miler benefits? :p

    Kudos to the airman-- thanks for your service all around!
     
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  21. traveltoomuch

    traveltoomuch Silver Member

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    Thank you for pointing out the actual call (at least as reported by the AF pilot).

    I just watched Fox's interview of the AF pilot (MSN link in original post - captions say it's Fox's video). He specifically said the call was for non-rev pilots, and he responded anyway. He said the first officer asked him what he flew (answer: B-1's) then asked him to work the radios and back her up on the checklists. All of which makes perfect sense - anyone who flies a plane for a living is going to be able to do those two things, even if they're not type certified on a 737.
     
  22. NYBanker
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    Very fair.

    Certainly less bad than the "are there a ny pilots" announcement. Even they, wouldn't the pax manifest indicate NRSAs and it would seem more discrete simply to ask them their occupation individually than via the public address.
     
  23. NYBanker
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    Hopefully they made the best of a bad situation...


    image-2488497643.png
     

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