People with a fear of flying often cite the sense of helplessness as one of the most terrifying aspects of the phobia. 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:
5. A pilot rants over the intercom about sex with his flight attendants
In 2011, a Southwest Airlines pilot lamented to his copilot about how lonely his life had become. A common complaint, perhaps, but in this case he didn’t realise the mic on his headset was on, and that he was blasting his laments to every other flight crew in the vicinity trying to use the frequency, as well as the air traffic control towers.
4. A fistfight breaks out between pilots and crew, then spills out into the cabin
A 24-year-old “air hostess,” Komal Singh, claimed that the pilot had groped her during the pre-flight briefing. She told this to the chief flight attendant, 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. A full-fledged fistfight broke out between the pilot, co-pilot, 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.
3. A pilot narrowly avoids the planet Venus
In January of 2011, the drowsy first officer of an Air Canada flight decided to get in some nap time. When the muddled officer woke up an hour later and looked out of the front windshield and noticed what appeared to be the exterior lights from an oncoming plane, heading right for them. 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. 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.
2. A pilot answers text messages and forgets to lower the landing gear
At 2,000 feet, a pilot decided to check his incoming text messages. The pilot was so distracted by his phone that he forgot to lower the landing gear.
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.
1. A pilot let his kids take the controls and predictability ensued
In 1994, Yaroslav Kudrinsky was at the helm of a flight, carrying 75 passengers.
He left the craft on autopilot, and allowed his children to occupy the pilot seats while he demonstrated the various instruments. While his daughter played with the control column, Kudrinky’s son took a turn “steering” the plane. The autopilot disengaged, making the aircraft go banking toward the earth.
But luckily, the pilot got the plane under control and everyone had a good
laugh about it.