Pilot thought instructor who had died inflight was ‘pretending to take a nap’

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A flight instructor who suffered a cardiac arrest and died during a circuit flight was thought to be taking a nap by the pilot he was accompanying. 

The incident occurred on June 29, 2022 in Lancashire, UK, when the pilot asked the instructor to accompany him on the flight.

According to a report published by the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch, conditions were windy on that day, and were above the pilot’s limit to fly on his own. 

The 57-year old seasoned flight instructor agreed to fit in the short flight after he finished a lesson that day. It was reported that the pilot and the flight instructor had known each other for some time. 

The report stated that the pair were conversing normally as the aircraft, a four-person Piper PA-28 plane, taxied the runway. There were no other passengers onboard.

The last words the pilot remembers the instructor saying was: “looks good, there is nothing behind you,” prior to takeoff. 

The pilot said that shortly afterwards, the instructor’s head rolled back and because the pair knew each other well, the pilot thought he was “just pretending to take a nap whilst the pilot flew the circuit, so he did not think anything was wrong at this stage,” the report stated. 

The pilot proceeded to fly and towards the end of the flight circuit, the instructor’s head was slumped on the pilot’s shoulder.

It was only when the flight landed and the pilot still had not gained a reply from the instructor that he realized something was wrong.

Fire crew and air ambulance medical crew promptly arrived at the scene and tried to revive the instructor. However, he remained unresponsive and paramedics were unable to save him.

According to the accident report, the Civil Aviation Authority found three previous instances of a pilot suffering a heart attack inflight since 2005.

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