A 53-year-old woman with just forty hours of flying takes over controls of an airliner when the captain and first officer become medically incapacitated.
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The Last Hours of Their Lives
No airline has ever lost both of its pilots while in flight. It finally happened on Marist Airlines Flight 212 when both officers became medically incapacitated. The only person on board with any flying experience was a 53-year-old woman with just 40 hours of flying. The question passengers, air traffic control, and Marist Airlines kept asking as she took control of the flight was—would she be able to safely land the plane?
Marist Air Lines Flight 212
Sunday Afternoon, August 12
Midway into their flight from San Diego to Chicago, most of the plane’s passengers slumped in their seats. A few of them stood, ready to move, but realized they had nowhere to go. Couples clung to each for comfort or security. iPads, Nooks and Kindles were open but no longer being read. Headsets hung loosely around peoples’ necks or were draped in their laps. Except for the noise of the engines, a silence reigned throughout the plane, only punctuated now and then by an occasional sob or a stifled cry.
Some passengers sat with hands covering their mouths, while others merely stared at the backs of the seats in front of them or out the plane’s windows. News from the first class section to the rear of the aircraft was forcing everyone on this flight to deal with a predicament they had never before consciously contemplated. They were probably living the last hours of their lives.