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Off-duty pilot steps in mid-flight after captain becomes incapacitated

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An off-duty pilot who was a passenger on a flight stepped in to help fly the jet after the captain became incapacitated and needed medical attention.

On March 23, 2023, just before 6:45 am, Southwest Airlines flight 6013 departed from Las Vegas Harry Reid Airport (LAS) for Columbus John Glen Airport (GMH) (local time).

According to sources, the captain felt ill during the flight, and an off-duty pilot from a different airline offered to help.

Two hours into the flight, the plane made a turn back toward Las Vegas so the sick pilot could receive medical attention.

CNN published a recording of the pilot’s conversation with the air traffic controllers.

“Okay we are going to get airstairs out here. The captain became incapacitated while enroute,” the Southwest pilot said. “He’s in the back of the aircraft right now with a flight attendant, but we need to get him on an ambulance immediately.”

Regarding the captain’s current state of health, Southwest Airlines has not provided any updates.

“Southwest Flight 6013 from Las Vegas to Columbus, Ohio returned to LAS after departure on Wednesday when one of our Pilots needed medical attention,” a spokesperson for Southwest Airlines said.

They added: “The flight landed safely, and an alternate Flight Crew is operating the flight to CMH. We commend the Crew for their professionalism and appreciate our customers’ patience and understanding regarding the situation.”

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