Say What Now? Pilot Thought Instructor Was 'Just Pretending' When He Had a Died Mid-Takeoff

A pilot thought his flight instructor was pretending when he suffered a heart attack mid-takeoff last year.

via People:

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), based in the United Kingdom, said in its report the 57-year-old victim had agreed to accompany a qualified pilot on his flight from Blackpool Airport in Lancashire, England to another airfield on June 29, 2022.

As the Piper PA-28-161 took off, however, the instructor “suffered a sudden fatal heart attack,” according to the Feb. 9 report.

The surviving pilot said the instructor’s head rolled back shortly after takeoff, but admittedly did not think much of it.

“The pilot knew the instructor well and thought he was just pretending to take a nap whilst the pilot flew the circuit,” the report found, “so he did not think anything was wrong at this stage.”

A short time later, the instructor slumped over in his seat, according to the report. His head fell onto the pilot’s shoulder, but the pilot said he still believed the instructor was joking around.

It wasn’t until the plane landed that the pilot realized something was wrong with his instructor, the reports said. Crews attempted to revive him, but were unable to do so.

Officials have determined that the instructor died from acute cardiac failure. A medical analysis revealed the instructor had a blood clot in his heart, as well as signs of “diffuse atheromatous disease,” which AAIB said can result in fatty substances clogging up arteries.

The instructor had a history of hypertensive disease, also known as high blood pressure, according to the report. He had been taking blood pressure medication since 2002.

The surviving pilot did not recall any abnormalities during the taxi, according to the report. Others who encountered the instructor on the day of his death also said he seemed normal, and did not appear to feel unwell.

“The three people who had flown with him for the trial lesson just prior to the incident flight said he seemed well and nothing abnormal had occurred,” the report added.

The man who died in the incident was employed as a full-time senior flight instructor, according to the report. He had recorded nearly 9,000 flying hours, including 184 in the last 90 days.

Luckily, the surviving pilot was capable of safely landing the plane on his own. The AAIB said, “had this occurred on another flight the outcome could have been different.”

“No tests or assessment can give a 100 percent reliable detection of cardiac issues,” the branch said.

How do you not notice someone having a complete heart attack? That’s scary.

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