Terror Scare Grips Co-Pilot When Pilot Locked in Bathroom

Thursday, 17 Nov 2011 11:27 AM

By Margaret Menge

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A well-meaning airline passenger with a thick foreign accent triggered a 911-type scare Wednesday night when he attempted to help a pilot locked in a bathroom on a flight nearing New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

The passenger banged on the door of the cockpit to alert the co-pilot that the pilot could not get out of the bathroom, according to the New York Post.  But the co-pilot refused to open the cockpit door and instead alerted air traffic controllers of a possible security situation.

Story continues below audio of conversation between control tower and plane.




The incident happened on board a Chatauqua Airlines flight that was coming from Asheville, N.C. The pilot had decided to take a quick trip to the bathroom before landing, but when he tried to get out, the door jammed and he was trapped.


Desperate to get out and land the plane, the pilot pounded on the bathroom door, hoping someone would hear. A passenger sitting in the front row jumped up to help.

But when that passenger knocked on the door of the cockpit to alert the co-pilot that the pilot was trapped, the co-pilot got spooked and refused to open to open it, telling ground control: “I’m not about to let him in.”

He told air traffic controllers that he thought the passenger had a Middle Eastern accent.

Fighter jets were alerted, though not scrambled, as the pilot managed to free himself from the bathroom and let the co-pilot know that all was well. He landed the plane safely at about 6:30 p.m.

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