When Benjamin awoke from his nap he heard the flight attendant announce: Does any passenger know how to fly a plane? The captain and vice-captain have both passed out. Please make sure your seat belts are fastened, you seat is upright, and your tray-table is folded away.
It was to be a long flight, and the plane clearly was on auto-pilot. It didn’t look like anyone had volunteered. Everyone went white and remained seated. You’d think some people would have screamed, but instead there was an eerie silence.
Benjamin had his pilot’s licence but it had lapsed years ago. He had flown only light aircraft. In fact he couldn’t recall even having been in the cockpit of a commercial passenger plane. All those lights and knobs! However, a little knowledge was possibly better than nothing. He stood and made his way to the front of the plane.
First things first, he said to the flight attendant. We have to radio some air control people and say we’re on autopilot and the pilot is possibly dead. They might be able to tell us what to do; what buttons to push, what switches to switch. Perhaps they might even be able to perform a landing by remote control.
Benjamin grabbed the microphone and announced: Does anyone know how to operate the radio so we can contact the ground and get instructions?
Arnold in Seat 22A was a radio ham. He had been a keen radio buff when he was at high school years ago. He stood and made his way to the front of the plane.
That was when 90 year old Mabel Partridge stood. “You can’t go to the bathroom now, ma’am,” said the flight attendant. “I’m sorry but you must remain seated.”
Mabel wasn’t taking no for an answer. She hobbled to the front of the plane and said “Step aside”. She had been a commercial airline pilot in her younger days. She took over. It was a flawless landing.
In the ocean.