Our firm regularly reports on accidents that have a tragic and unfortunate ending; a life is lost or someone suffers a very serious, life-altering injury in an accident. But there are those wonderful moments when an accident is averted and lives are spared from an abrupt end.
This was the case for American flight 1612 featuring a Boeing 767 airliner. The first officer in the cockpit suddenly fell ill and someone was needed to help manage the flight controls. If no one was found, the risk of a major plane crash would increase dramatically. Keep in mind, there were 227 passengers aboard the plane. Enter flight attendant Patti DeLuna.
In this critical moment, Mrs. DeLuna took over for the first officer and helped successfully land the plane.
"I was thinking about survival. I was thinking about getting it down the best I could," said DeLuna to chicagobreakingnews.com. "I don't feel like a hero. When you work on an airplane, you work as a team. You do whatever you can do to help."
The first officer that fell ill received treatment by paramedics and taken to a local hospital. The passengers had no idea what happened during the flight.
This was an impressive feat by Mrs. DeLuna, who only had an expired pilot's commercial certificate and 300 flights hours operating a small Cessna airplane under her belt. As a licensed pilot, I can say first hand that it would be a daunting challenge for most pilots to go from a Cessna to a Boeing 767.
Mrs. DeLuna said she wasn't a hero. We respectfully disagree.