The 7 Worst Things Airline Pilots Have Done Mid-Flight
People with a fear of flying often cite the sense of helplessness as one of the most terrifying aspects of the phobia. When you travel by air, you're entrusting your very existence to someone you've likely never met, nor know anything about, and that can be disconcerting. But of course, flying is the safest form of travel there is, thanks to endless safety measures and professional, competent flight crews.
It is a little harder to share in that unshakable confidence if you're on a flight where ...
A Pilot Rants Over the Intercom About Sex With His Flight Attendants
In 2011, a Southwest Airlines pilot lamented to his copilot about how vagina-less his life had become. A common complaint, perhaps, but in this case he didn't realize the mic on his headset was on, and that he was blasting his lonely cock lament to every other flight crew in the vicinity trying to use the frequency, as well as the air traffic control towers. And as bad as you think it was, trust us, it was worse. Here's the audio file, if you want to listen to it. It just goes on and on.
"My shrink told me I had mother issues, but that just gave me a boner."
His lack of sex, as he would go on to explain to dozens of listening strangers, was through no fault of his own, but rather that of Southwest Airlines. They had apparently implemented a hiring policy that allowed for, in his opinion, far too many flight attendants who simply didn't meet his standards. He starts out with a statistical analysis, playing it conservatively by only offending homosexuals and older women:
"Well, I had Tucson to Indy all four weeks and, uh, Chicago crews ... there's 12 flight attendants ... 11 fucking over the top, fucking ass-fucking homosexuals and a granny."
"Oh yeah? Well, you should have seen me back in the day, sonny, before the gender reassignment."
He then upped the stakes by tossing in the overweight ladies, henceforth known as "grandes":
"Eleven. I mean, think of the odds of that. I thought I was in Chicago, which was party land ... After that, it was just a continuous stream of gays and grannies and grandes ..."
And then finally, he admitted what most of us were suspecting all along:
"Oh I don't give a fuck. I hate 100 percent of their asses."
"And the Mexicans. Man, don't even get me started on the Mexicans."
He goes on and on, bemoaning the lack of acceptable plunder-caves for his lonely penis (declaring only one prospect to be "partly doable"), until finally an air traffic controller is able to interrupt and get on the air to advise, "OK, whoever's transmitting, you better watch what you're saying." Oblivious, the pilot blundered on through the warning (and through the persistent sounds of countless other pilots and controllers trying to key up their mics), delivering a fascinating anecdote that ended with, "... but they're still mopeds, you know what I mean? I still wouldn't want anyone to know if I had banged 'em."
Finally, the same air traffic controller is able to break in again and says, "OK, someone's got a stuck mic and, uh, telling us all about their, uh, 'endeavors,' and we don't need to hear that." There is nothing further from the pilot, who by this point had managed to clog up air traffic for several minutes over one of the busiest airports in the country while other planes were trying to land. A Southwest spokesperson would later tell reporters that the "pilot had been reprimanded, suspended without pay ... and sent to diversity training" as a result of the embarrassing and offensive rant that went out over the Texas airways, but in a small act of pity toward his shitty sex life, refused to divulge his name.
"Around here we just call him Grande McGrannyFuck."
A Fistfight Breaks Out Between Pilots and Crew, then Spills Out into the Cabin
If you were to make a list of the top five things you never want to see a pilot do, right near the top (perhaps behind only "falling out of the cockpit with a knife in his back" and "asking passengers over the intercom if anyone has any heroin") would have to be "getting into a brutal fistfight with the crew, right there in the aisle."
"I'd like to fist you a question. Sorry, I'm not good with puns."
Yes, that happened, on an Air India flight. A 24-year-old "air hostess," Komal Singh, claimed that the pilot had groped her during the pre-flight briefing, presumably during the demonstration of the aircraft's flotation devices. She told this to the chief flight attendant (or "purser"), a male and a friend of Singh's. Instead of telling her to file a grievance once they were all safely on the ground, the man decided that vengeance could wait not a moment longer. He burst into the cockpit like the shark from Jaws to confront the guilty party.
At this point, a full-fledged fistfight broke out between the pilot, copilot, purser and Singh that spilled out into the galley in full view of 113 passengers and crew, leaving the airplane unmanned for 10 straight minutes.
"If suddenly things get vertical and we all start floating, just sort of punch us toward the cockpit."
At one point during the brawl, the pilot likened the scenario to a hijacking, and threatened to divert the plane to Karachi for an emergency landing. Eventually, the combatants either beat each other into exhaustion or suddenly realized the colossal stupidity of holding a Brawl for All aboard a commercial airliner involving the only people present who could actually fly the damn thing.
"The pilots are dead. It's your time to shine, grandma."
After an inquiry by the authorities, both pilots were cleared of the sexual harassment charges, but in regards to the brawl, everyone involved got "charge sheeted." Which we're thinking is less than what a post-9/11 flight attendant would get in the USA if he had burst into the cockpit with the intention of punching the pilot. Speaking of which ...
A Pilot Gets Stuck in the Bathroom, Causing a Terrorism Scare
On a recent Chautauqua Airlines flight from North Carolina to New York, the pilot left the controls while the plane was in a holding pattern for landing to go make a quick trip to the bathroom. The affair concluded, he attempted to leave the bathroom and return to the cockpit, but found that due to some malfunction with the door, he was now locked inside.
Slowly realizing that his life had somehow become a Mr. Bean movie, the desperate pilot began shouting for help, alerting a nearby passenger who told the pilot to hang on while he got the attention of the copilot. This good Samaritan made his way to the front of the plane and began pounding on the cockpit door, shouting about a trapped pilot in his heavy "Middle Eastern" accent.
ABC News was kind enough to supply this diagram, showing that the shitter is in the ass-end of the plane.
The copilot immediately notified air traffic control of the following: "The captain disappeared in the back, and, uh, I have someone with a thick foreign accent trying to access the cockpit."
When asked to clarify just what the hell was going on, he responded, "What I'm being told is he is stuck in the lav. Someone with a thick foreign accent is giving me a password to access the cockpit, and I'm not about to let him in." He then asked for the appropriate course of action.
"The most important thing is to determine whether you're in a dark comedy or something more slapstick."
He was ordered by the controllers to initiate an emergency landing while they prepared to call everyone from fighter squadrons to Delta Force to prevent the next 9/11. But before the situation spun completely and hilariously out of control, the pilot was able to force his way out of his toilet prison and let himself back into the cockpit, where, to the relief of all, he notified the ground that everything was fine and that he really had gotten stuck in the bathroom like a magnificent dumbass. Presumably the passenger was still arrested for the act of banging on a cockpit door while in possession of a foreign accent.
"If you're innocent, sir, then how do you explain the cloth on your head, let alone the mustache?"
A Pilot Narrowly Avoids the Planet Venus
For most humans, our brain is never less functional than at the moment we wake up, which you already know if you've ever spent 20 minutes trying to "answer" your alarm clock because you were just having a dream that Commissioner Gordon was calling you on the Batphone. So you can imagine what can go wrong if you were to, say, wake up behind the stick of an airliner.
In January of 2011, the drowsy first officer of an Air Canada flight traveling from Toronto to Zurich decided to get in some nap time, which is actually permissible under that airline's rules and is not uncommon for transcontinental flights. A little more than an hour later, he woke up, sleepily scraping the eye boogers of upper atmosphere from his face. At this point, he overheard the pilot calmly and matter-of-factly mention that there was a U.S. military aircraft in the vicinity. No big deal.
They almost never bite.
But the muddled officer looked out of the front windshield and noticed what appeared to be the exterior lights from an oncoming plane, heading right for them. "Holy shit!" he thought, "It's that military plane the pilot just mentioned! It's not just in our vicinity, it's about to ram us out of the fucking sky! Shiiiiiiiiiit!"
With seemingly no time to lose before what he perceived to be an imminent collision, the first officer heaved the control stick forward, sending the craft into a sudden 400-foot plunge and flinging passengers all over the fuselage.
"If we plunge into a zero-gravity dive, the captain recommends attempting either a wicked flip or boning somebody."
After completing this bone-jarring maneuver, the flight officer probably looked over to the pilot with his hand raised and ready to receive a high-five. He was likely instead met with the cold hard stare of a man contemplating the best way to dropkick a co-worker through the emergency exit. The lights of the oncoming craft turned out to be the planet Venus, which, while on their trajectory, they were in no real danger of hitting.
The first officer's emergency dive, however, had put the plane dangerously close to the actual location of the aforementioned military plane, which was coasting along only 1,000 feet below. Oh, and 16 passengers claimed injury as a result of getting tossed around by the sudden maneuver, and a class action lawsuit for $20 million is in the works.
"I knew this flying thing would eventually pay off."
A Pilot Answers Text Messages and Forgets to Lower the Landing Gear
Jetstar flight JQ57 was on its final approach into Singapore's Changi Airport on May 27, 2010, and things seemed to be well in hand, with a veteran pilot (13,000 flight hours) and seasoned first officer (4,000 hours) at the controls. However, at 2,000 feet, the pilot decided to check his incoming text messages. So, deciding that this task was more of a priority than, you know, landing the goddamn plane, the pilot began reviewing all the "sup playa"s and "WRU LOL"s in his inbox.
"its coo i can tlk babe, i don't do jack arnd here anyway."
As the plane angled nearer and nearer to the ground, the copilot felt a strange sense of unease, that somehow "something was not quite right." When he attempted to notify the pilot of his concerns, he received no response, as the pilot was "preoccupied with his mobile phone." With only 392 feet left before contact with the tarmac, the copilot finally figured out what was wrong: The pilot was so distracted by his phone that he had forgotten to lower the landing gear.
Suddenly able to break away from sending sepia-toned shots of the cockpit warning lights to Instagram, the pilot made a last-minute attempt to get the landing gear down, but by that point he would have had more success jumping out with some roller skates and trying to catch the plane on his back. Luckily, the copilot was able to make the save by jerking back on the yoke and throwing the plane skyward, which came as a rather unpleasant surprise to the 167 passengers on board.
"Yeah, that's not gonna happen, buddy. You'd better duck."
After an investigation, Jetstar officials stated that the lessons learned from the incident would be incorporated into their flight training, much to the consternation of those pilots who prefer a timely conclusion to their Words With Friends matches.
"Hold on, they're telling me I have to fly this fucking plane now."
A Copilot Nearly Crashed the Plane Trying to Open the Cockpit Door
In September 2011, an All Nippon Airways Boeing 737-700 was en route to Tokyo from Okinawa when the pilot needed to leave his seat momentarily to go pee it up. Airlines generally require rigorous training for copilots, and the one on this flight had plenty of experience and no history of incompetence, so there seemed to be little reason for concern.
Unlike the pilot earlier, this one successfully escaped the bathroom without incident. He walked back to the locked cockpit door to be let back in. These doors are electronically locked (you know, safety and all that), so in order to allow the pilot back into the cockpit, the copilot had to press a button to unlock it. Unfortunately, in one of the most baffling design decisions of all time, the button happened to be right next to another button: the one that controlled the rudder.
"If you'll look out of your window, you'll see the last visual images to ever enter your brain."
So, as the pilot stood waiting at the door, probably still hunched over, adjusting his zipper, the plane suddenly nosedived, plunging 6,234 feet in 30 seconds and flipping almost completely over.
Thinking rationally is incredibly difficult when you're cartwheeling over the Pacific, but miraculously the copilot was able to collect enough of his shit to regain control of the aircraft. The pilot finally got through the gut-busting prank door of catastrophic life endangerment and was able to land without further mishap, with only a few people suffering minor bumps and bruises, and a dense fog of urine and Japanese swear words hanging thickly in the cabin.
"Just keep the Vicodin martinis coming and we'll all walk off this plane happy."
A senior executive vice president of the airline would later hold a press conference in reference to the incident that was notable for its innumerable deep apologetic bows. Promises were made that in the future pilots will be compelled to "do a double-check on where the controls are located as they leave and return to the cockpit," the phrasing of which is arguably more troubling than the incident itself.
A Pilot Let His Kids Take the Controls and Predictability Ensued
In 1994, Yaroslav Kudrinsky was at the helm of Aeroflot Flight 593, carrying 75 passengers from Moscow to Hong Kong. Entertaining scenery is pretty hard to come by over remote Siberia, so he decided to get in some family time with his 15-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter and invited them both into the cockpit. No big deal, that's an exciting moment for a kid, and it's not like he was going to let them fly the plane.
But you know, it couldn't hurt if he just let them pretend to fly it for a while, right? So, with the craft on autopilot, Kudrinsky got up out of his chair and allowed both of his children to occupy the pilot seats while he demonstrated the various instruments.
"So you see, son, touching literally any of these would doom us all."
And really, what would be the harm in letting them fly it just a little bit? The passengers would probably agree that this is adorable. So, while his daughter played with the control column, Kudrinsky adjusted the autopilot heading to make it appear to the little girl that she was actually turning the plane. Not wanting to be left out of the fun, Kudrinky's son took a turn "steering" the plane.
Hey, did we mention that the autopilot is set to automatically disengage if somebody turns hard enough on the steering wheel? Because the plane assumes there is a problem and that you're trying to take control?
For instance, if you saw a hot chick in a bikini down below that you really wanted to get a better look at.
That is exactly what happened while the teenager was at the controls, so he suddenly went from pretending to fly to actually flying, sending the aircraft banking toward the earth.
This course deviation lasted for a disastrous 30 seconds before anyone was able to figure out what was going on, because there was no alarm system in place to alert the pilots when manual control had been re-engaged. By the time he realized what had happened, the bank had turned into a dive. But luckily, the pilot got the plane under control and everyone had a good laugh about it.
"Sorry, son, but the manual says I have to hit the eject button. See you on the ground."
Jesus. That kind of puts all of the previous stories in a completely different light, doesn't it? If your airline pilot does a good job the next time you fly, give him or her a pat on the back.
For more pilots who were a few cents short of a full dollar, check out 6 WWI Fighter Pilots Whose Balls Deserve Their Own Monument and The 6 Most Badass Airline Pilots To Ever Stare Down Death.