Sickness can occur at the most inopportune time. For one Southwest Airlines pilot, incapacitating sickness occurred thousands of feet above the ground in the middle of a flight. But it was there that another pilot, from another airline, was willing to lend a helping hand.
Pilot From Another Airline Helps Fly Flight After Southwest Airlines Pilot Gets Sick
Southwest Flight 6013 took off from Las Vegas (LAS) bound for Columbus, Ohio (CMH) on time on Wednesday March 22, 2023. But after takeoff, one of the pilots became incapacitated. He was pulled out of the cockpit.
When something like this occurs, normally a flight attendant will step in and remain in the cockpit. It’s not that one pilot cannot fly the plane (after all, that is the main reason why there are two pilots onboard), but because it is safer to fly with two, even if the second body in the cockpit merely provides cursory assistance.
But in this case, a pilot from another airline was commuting to Ohio and quickly stepped up to assist. While he did not fly the plane, he did join the other Southwest Airlines pilot in the flight deck and provided assistance with radio communications.
I’m being notified by passengers on a Southwest flight departing Las Vegas that the captain became incapacitated soon after takeoff this morning. He was removed from the flight deck and replaced by a non Southwest pilot who was commuting on that flight. This is now the fifth…
— Josh Yoder (@JoshYoder) March 22, 2023
The plane turned around and returned to Las Vegas, arriving back roughly two hours after departing.
A Southwest Airlines spokesperson confirmed the event:
“Southwest Flight 6013 from Las Vegas to Columbus, Ohio returned to LAS after departure on Wednesday when one of our Pilots needed medical attention. The flight landed safely, and an alternate Flight Crew is operating the flight to CMH. We commend the Crew for their professionalism and appreciate our Customers’ patience and understanding regarding the situation.”
It is not clear what the condition of the pilot is.
There is a certain brotherhood (or sisterhood) in the airline industry that makes competitors friends and instills a certain base level of trust, no matter the carrier. While we don’t know the condition of the Southwest pilot, it is a nice story that one pilot was so willing to jump up an assist and that we do not live in such a fear-filled system that such help had to be turned down.
(H/T: View From The Wing)