The pilot of a Chicago flight bound for Columbus, Ohio, passed out suddenly after takeoff Saturday evening, prompting a co-pilot to make a return flight back to the airport.
The pilot, who was a captain in training for American Airlines subsidiary Envoy Air, later died at the hospital, according to reports.
In an audio recording of the interaction with air traffic control, the co-pilot is heard relaying, “We need to return. Captain is incapacitated… he’s knocked out. We’re going to need paramedics.”
After a brief 37 minutes of flight time, the co-pilot was successfully able to return the plane back to Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
“Dear fellow pilots,” related Envoy Vice President of Flight Operations Captain Ric Wilson. “Last night Envoy Flight 3556 from ORD to CMH declared an emergency immediately after takeoff due to an incapacitated pilot. The flight promptly returned to ORD and was landed safely.”
“Despite heroic efforts to revive him, Captain in training, Patrick Ford passed away. We’re deeply saddened by this loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
“Sincere thanks to Line Check Airman, Captain Brandon Hendrickson, for his leadership and professionalism in the safe handling of his aircraft, passengers and crew,” Captain Wilson’s message stated.
CNBC notes: “Envoy did not comment on the cause of the medical emergency.”
Check out a flight path display of the incident:
The Federal Aviation Administration has launched an investigation into the incident, according to SimpleFlying.com.
“Aviation sources believe the captain in training died of a heart attack, but officials have not confirmed the cause of death,” Simple Flying reports.
The site goes on to explain a New England Journal of Medicine study found medical emergencies during flights are “not uncommon,” but that “Fatal medical emergencies are extremely rare.”
“The study concluded that among all passengers who had experienced a medical emergency in flight, less than 1% proved to be fatal.”
While the cause of the pilot’s blackout has not been revealed, incidents like this were exactly what pilots who rallied against mandatory Covid vaccinations were trying to avoid.
Last December, American Airlines Captain Greg Pearson, who suffered atrial fibrillation after getting a work-mandated Covid-19 jab, warned his medical emergency could have occurred as he tried to land a plane.
“You never know when the genie’s gonna come out of the bottle and smack you down… I could have stroked out at 100 feet trying to land an airplane with 40 airplanes lined up next to us. I could have just pushed down on that stick before the person next to me could do anything,” Pearson said during a press conference at AmericaFest 2021.
The issue was so concerning that an Army flight surgeon recommended the Pentagon ground all pilots who were vaccinated for fear they could suffer severe adverse effects mid-flight.
“I personally observed the most physically fit female Soldier I have seen in over 20 years in the Army, go from Colligate level athlete training for Ranger School, to being physically debilitated with cardiac problems, newly diagnosed pituitary brain tumor, thyroid dysfunction within weeks of getting vaccinated,” Lieutenant Colonel Theresa Long testified in a sworn affidavit.
“In accordance with the foregoing, I hereby recommend to the Secretary of Defense that all pilots, crew and flight personnel in the military service who required hospitalization from injection or received any Covid 19 vaccination be grounded similarly for further dispositive assessment,” she said.
“I must and will therefore ground all active flight personnel who received the vaccinations until such time as the causation of these serious systemic health risks can be more fully and adequately assessed,” Long added.