Resident pilot 121pilot, a captain for a major U.S. airline, authors a new column on Live and Let’s Fly called Ask Your Captain. His mission: demystify the flight deck and an answer any question you may have on the topic of flying.
Q: As an AvGeek and about eight hours toward my private pilot (from 20 years ago) I have always longed to hear the words over the PA, “Is there anyone onboard with flying experience?” Dash my hopes and dreams with tales of how rare it is, how a flight attendant might be chosen over me, and that they would never let me taxi to the gate.
A: I’m afraid I’m going to have to dash your hopes and dreams. If one of the pilots suddenly becomes incapacitated its very unlikely that we are going to summon a private pilot to the cockpit. Frankly, in normal conditions I can get my Airbus on the ground and to the gate just fine by myself if need be and if I did bring a flight attendant up front it would likely only be to read the checklist to me. That being said if you’ve seen the movie Dumb and Dumber, well “I’m saying there is a chance.” If I had some sort of significant emergency and my fellow pilot was incapacitated, I’d be far more likely to bring someone else up front with me.
In the case I felt I really needed some support but given the nature of the emergency did not want to have a flight attendant away from their assigned station during the landing, I’d certainly consider it. Though given the choice a private pilot with only piston single time is likely to be my last choice. So, while it’s not impossible that you might be summoned forward in Ted Striker fashion to save the day, I wouldn’t get my hopes up.
Have a question for the captain? E-mail him at ask121pilot at yahoo dot com and you may see your question appear in a future column!