Pilot Distracted By Former Flame

April 5, 2009

in Attendant & Pilot Stories

Several years ago, I was flying on a smaller prop plane across TX. Not too many passengers on board, and the weather was choppy enough to be uncomfortable.

During the flight, the pilot comes back and sits next to an attractive woman flying alone. “How has she been?,” he asks. Turns out they dated several months ago and she cut all contact without explaining why. What’s been happening? Why didn’t she return his calls? (I am not in anyway endorsing her behavior by the way, although his behavior on this day was erratic enough that I can’t blame her either.)

Then the attendant comes up and reminds the pilot that the co-pilot is not rated to land this aircraft at the designated airport in these weather conditions. Could he please return to the cockpit immediately? He ignores her and continues to pursue a conversation with someone who apparently isn’t remotely interested in even seeing him, let alone sharing an intimate conversation in front of 15 or so interested (or alarmed) strangers.

He’s starting to seem pretty upset about the whole thing (as is the flight attendant – and I wasn’t really excited about it either – I mean who’s going to land the plane here?), when the woman changes tactics.

It’s all been a huge misunderstanding, you see, and why don’t they have a drink after the flight and catch up. This calms him down and he returns to the front and lands the plane.

They did walk off together at the end of it all, so I wasn’t sure whether the woman was just agreeing to the drink in order to calm him down and get us all on the ground safely, or whether she really was that fickle in her affections.

Either way, I applauded her willingness to spend continued time with this guy (wasn’t really looking forward to the uncomfortable and under-trained co-pilot trying the landing). Haven’t flown that airline since.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Auburn Tigers April 29, 2009 at 6:09 am

This storey is total BS. The airlines would never hire a pilot that was not instument rated and a pilot would not get up during flight, especially in IMC weather, to talk to another passenger. There is no such thing as an airline pilot that is not rated to land at a specific airport. Please post real stories on here and not ones you read in Penthouse Forum.


Julicans April 29, 2009 at 7:14 am

mmm, excuse me, but it was the co-pilot that wasn't rated and yes the airlines do hire like that. Co-pilots learn and get hours to be promoted to captain.


Anonymous April 29, 2009 at 7:46 am

I am interested to know if this story is even possible.


Amanda April 29, 2009 at 9:18 am

I used to work for an airline, and they put you through hours of training before putting you on a specific aircraft. You're either typerated and approved to fly a certain aircraft, or you aren't. There's no differentiating between being able to fly it, but not land it. They're not going to schedule a crewmember to fly a plane who isn't typerated in it.


Auburn Tigers April 30, 2009 at 8:07 am

Ummmm Julican no they don't. In order to even Land an F/O job you have to have a commercial ticket. You can't get that without a having an insrument. The first thing you do when you get hired on is go to school and get your type in the aircraft you are flying. Yes they do hire F/O's with low time and they work there way up to captain much like starting at the bottom and working you way up to supervisor, but you can not fly for the airlines if you are not commercial and instrument rated. The F/O can do all the functions the Captian does. That is what he/she is there for. If the captain keels over dead the F/O will then have to get the aircraft on the ground. It happened just last year with an American airlines flight coming out of Dallas. The Pilot died shortly after roation and the f/o brought back in. Obvioulsy you don't work in the aviation industry and have no clue what you are talking about.


Anonymous April 30, 2009 at 10:55 am

Auburn Tigers: That was Continental out of Houston, not American out of Dallas, and it happened in 2007.

It's plausible that a combination of weather conditions and a very new first officer could have created a situation where the captain was required to do the landing, but I still call BS on this story.


Uk Nick May 20, 2009 at 2:14 am

There is no way on gods green earth this took place. no FA is going to come back to the captain sitting in the cabin and comment on the FO not been able to land the aircraft. What does this person take us for. I can asure you what ever seat i sit in up front, if for some reason i cannot put the aircraft down then my co flyer can do it with no problems, at any airport and in any condition in which we could land it together. why post complete bs ???


I hate idiots June 23, 2009 at 2:50 am

Total BS! 1) No pilot would EVER do that. 2) The FO is fully qualified to fly and land in whatever weather. 3) Even if he wasn't, the FA wouldn't know. 4) No pilot would EVER do that. If you know even 1 thing about 121 flying, you could immediately recognize a total BS story.


Mike R. August 20, 2009 at 4:50 am


Re: Veracity of story re: public behavior of pilot -OR- statement re: qualifications of flight crew members:

As previously stated by others……F.O. may likely be short on hours…….but F.O. must to be fully capable of FLYING and LANDING aircraft type they are assigned should pilot become incapacitated. Why the hell would an unqualified F.O. be scheduled and paid to be on board to begin with?……..WAKE UP!!

And to those of you (sufferers of anencephaly – that you must truly be) who have posted in support of any part of this story being true OR based upon fact……. then, you clearly serve as living proof of the following:

That the TWO most common elements in the universe are……….hydrogen AND stupidity!



firefighter October 27, 2009 at 6:59 am

Ok, I work at an airline scheduling pilots and flight attendents. I know the ins and outs of qualifications for pilots. It is possible for an FO not to be qualified to land under certain circumstances. Just becuase a pilot as all the rating he/she can get, doesn't mean that they are qualified for that particular aircraft. You don't learn to fly on a 747. So it is completley plausible that the FO couldn't land the A/C on his own. The other thing to consider is a training flight. A senior CA might be training a new pilot in, that in an emergency could land the plane, but would not be allowed to if the CA is alert and responsive.


Oregonbeerman October 27, 2009 at 9:13 am

Is it possible that the writer did not correctly interpret the FA's statement to the pilot? Perhaps the FO had asked that the Captain be asked back to the cockpit because the aircraft should not be landed without both pilots in the cockpit. This restriction may be a matter of policy and procedure rather than one of rating. Obviously an FO has spent many hours type rating, and is prepared to land the aircraft solo if needed – but if you have a fully qualified and facultied captain on board, he should probably be up front with you. After all, two sets of eyes are better than one and even in perfect visual conditions a second pilot to handle radios and call outs while the other flies is better for safety. If it wasn't – the airlines wouldn't do it.

As far as the Captain coming out of the cockpit to chat-up a passenger, especially an ex-fling… I've flown fairly frequently in the past – and haven't seen pilots come out of the cockpit for anything more than a lavatory visit or a quick coffee refill, and that includes some cross-country flights. (Obviously internationals have crew-rest seats, etc…) But then again, I always try to fly mainline when possible – so maybe the little regionals don't stress professionalism as much.


Dylan Lloyd Thompson October 27, 2009 at 11:12 am

Okay guys. Picutre this. If the Pilot were to be incapaciated…who would land the plane anyway. That is one of the reasons 2 two pilots to fly an aircraft, in addition to CRM. Also, The Pilot may not enter the passenger cabin as a FAR. As a general note, I am a Pilot-In-Training and do take Aviation very seriously. Please do not make up stories such as this one and comment on it and pretend to know what you're talking about.


Taylor December 25, 2010 at 3:30 am

This situation could happen. Per the FARs, if the pilot second-in-command has less then 100 hours on the type of the aircraft being flown, as such with a new pilot just hired, and through training, the pilot is not legally able to land the plane under certain weather conditions such as Low IMC. Most airlines standard operating procedures would forbid such actions of the Captain, this situation, though improbable, could happen. The first officer (Second-in-command) would most likely have the ability and the competence to land the plane, if the Captian/Pilot-in-command became incapacitated.


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