Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Continental pilot dies in-flight

Continental Airlines logoThis past Sunday, a Continental Airlines Boeing 757 aircraft on a flight between Houston and Puerto Vallarta was diverted after a pilot collapsed. The other pilot on board the aircraft made an uneventful emergency landing at McAllen, Texas. Here's what a Houston Chronicle article has to say about the event:
Continental Flight 1838, a Boeing 757, departed George Bush Intercontinental Airport at 11:30 a.m. with 210 passengers. It landed in McAllen about 1:30 p.m. A replacement crew flew from Houston to McAllen and the flight took off again about 6 p.m. and landed in Puerto Vallarta at 7:17 p.m.

Lt. Scott Luke of the McAllen Police Department, who responded to the airport, said the flight's captain collapsed at the controls while the plane was about 200 miles south of the Texas border.

The McAllen Fire Department was notified at 1:21 p.m. about "an inflight medical emergency," Herrera said.

"They told us it was for a full arrest," he said.

"We waited for the plane to taxi to the jetway, and then we went onboard the plane," Herrera said. "The pilot was on the floor by the door. They had done compressions, CPR on him onboard the aircraft."

The pilot was transported to McAllen Medical Center. He was pronounced dead at 1:50 p.m., Luke said.
The pilot who passed away has been identified as Captain Zia Sheikh.

As if the loss of Captain Sheikh were not sad and shocking enough for his family and colleagues, I've also been told that the flight on which he died was his IOE for becoming a B757 captain -- his lifelong dream. I heard that, during the pre-flight crew briefing, he told the flight attendants that this was the happiest day of his life. He then died on his first and only flight as a captain.

Condolences to Captain Sheikh's wife and children on their tragic loss. They should know that he will be missed by his friends and colleagues at Continental, who all speak well of him.