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Commercial Flight Lands Safely After Death of Pilot

MIAMI, FL - FEBRUARY 07: American Airline planes are seen at the Miami International Airport on February 7, 2013 in Miami, Florida. Reports indicate that a deal between American Airlines and US Airways to merge may be set for early next week. If the deal goes through it would create the world's biggest airline. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Photo: Joe Raedle/2013 Getty Images

An American Airlines flight briefly turned into every anxious traveler’s nightmare early Monday morning when the pilot died in the middle of the trip. Luckily, unlike in nightmares, the plane had a co-pilot who was able to take over for his fallen colleague. After contacting air-traffic control to report that a “medical emergency” had left his captain “incapacitated,” the second-in-command safely landed the Airbus A320 at Syracuse Hancock International Airport at around 7 a.m.

According to NBC New York, “Details of the medical emergency and the identity of the deceased pilot weren’t immediately released. It also wasn’t clear when the pilot died.” Meanwhile, American Airlines released a statement saying the company was “incredibly saddened by this event.” A company spokesperson also made it clear that this type of incident is extremely rare, telling the New York Times that while she “could not be sure if a pilot for the airline had ever died in flight … there were clear procedures to follow in the event of emergencies.” And that’s how you take a story from “terrifying and sad” to simply “sad.”

Flight Lands Safely After Death of Pilot