Peninsula News

Attendant with inactive license helps land 767

Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Patti De Luna talks to reporters Passenger helps safely land American Airlines plane

An American Airlines flight attendant is being hailed a hero after she left the galley and moved to the cockpit to help land the plane when the co-pilot became ill.

The multitasking flight attendant was in the right place at the right time.

"This is way more fun than galley duty," she said Wednesday.

De Luna has been a flight attendant for half her life, but Monday was no ordinary work day. American Flight 1612 was headed for Chicago from San Francisco when the co-pilot took ill. Because De Luna had a pilot's license, she was elected by fellow crew members to help land the Boeing 767 with 225 passengers on board.

She took the right seat of the co-pilot.

"I was just there as support for the captain," she said. "I listened to the ATC information in case he was so busy that he missed some instruction. I watched for traffic."

De Luna had never flown a jet before and had not been flying for 20 years. Still, her boss says flight attendants do step up to the plate in emergencies.

"They're trained and they're retrained every year, from birthing babies to using the AD to save lives, but this is tops in my career, for this to happen," De Luna's boss Barbara Williams told ABC7.

De Luna dejects the label "hero." She credits the captain instead.

"And, I'm telling you, that captain is exemplary. He deserves a raise," she said.

Still, aviation experts say what she did was extraordinary.

"She had to familiarize herself with the cockpit, the instruments, the location... She had to deal with communication. She has three or four frequencies that she has to deal with at once," ABC7 aviation consultant Ron Wilson explained.

De Luna says the incident has rekindled her interest in flying, but she still plans to report for work as an American flight attendant.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
san francisco international airport, airline industry, american airlines, peninsula news, david louie
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