When a 57-year-old flight instructor passed away from a heart attack mid-flight, the accompanying pilot thought that he was ‘simply joking’. The pilot continued to fly the plane assuming the instructor was pretending to take a nap.
As indicated by a report from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch, UK, the flight had just taken off when the pilot noticed that the senior aviation instructor slouched over as if he were dozing.
The report said that the pilot had known the instructor quite well. Therefore, he asked the instructor to accompany him for a single circuit around the Blackpool Airport in Lancashire, UK as he had crossed his personal limit to fly on his own.
The duo was conversing normally, giving each other necessary inputs as they navigated through the runway in the single-engine Piper PA-28-161.
As the instructor's head drooped onto the pilot's shoulder, little did he know that the instructor was actually going through an actual medical emergency. The pilot said he thought nothing was truly off and continued to fly the plane.
Only after landing the plane did the pilot start to worry as the instructor was not still not answering back. He flagged the emergency crew for help, but it was too late. The instructor couldn't be resuscitated.
The post-mortem revealed that the instructor died from an acute cardiac failure. His coronary arteries showed ‘diffuse atheromatous disease’, which is a condition where the arteries become clogged with fatty substances. There was also a blood clot in his left main stem artery. The toxicology reports showed no other noteworthy findings. The instructor had a medical history of high blood pressure and was on medications for the same.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), responsible for the regulation of aviation safety, is reported to review the incident to determine if any changes are needed to be made to the current guidelines.
(Input from various media sources)