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Transcript: Alaskan plane pilot’s ultimate calmness mid-flight

Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max

Robin Guess | Shutterstock

Cerith Gardiner - published on 01/13/24

The recent blow-out onboard an Alaskan Airlines flight shows why it's important to remain calm in terrifying moments.

You may heard about the recent Alaskan Airlines flight heading from Portland to Seattle that experienced a blow-out while 16,000 feet in the air. But what you might not have discovered was the pilot’s incredible composure that helped keep things under control and minimize the chances of a potential disaster.

In a transcript of the conversation between the pilot — who so far remains anonymous — and the control tower, we get a glimpse into how she managed to rest cool, calm and very collected.

During the incident the cabin had become depressurized when a part of its structure blew out. As a result passengers’ phones were sucked out of the plane, and a teenager’s shirt was torn off his back. (Remarkably, or perhaps with a little divine intervention, the seats directly next to the missing door were empty.)

While the passengers were left in a terrifying position, no doubt fearing the worst, the plane’s pilot kept things calm.

Grace under pressure

In the transcript published by IAM14 that you can listen to here, the pilot displays zero panic. In fact, she needed to be asked if she were declaring an emergency!

Here’s a snippet:

Air traffic controller: “1282 foreign approach. Good afternoon. You still have information zero?”

Alaska Airlines pilot: “Yeah, we do have information zero, we’d like to get lower, if possible.”

Air traffic controller: “Possibility 1282 descend and maintain 7,000.”

Air traffic controller: “Alaska 1282 did you declare an emergency or did you need to return to …”

Alaska Airlines pilot: “Yes, we are in an emergency, we are depressurized, we do need to return back to, we have 177 passengers. Fuel is 18-eight.”

When she states: “We’d like to get lower, if possible,” most people would have had a slightly different reaction. It would have been understandable to hear something along the lines of: “Help, we’re in big trouble!”

Yet, the pilot’s reflexes and attitude helped keep things manageable, and from there she was able to fly the damaged aircraft back to Portland 20 minutes later. Happily, all 171 passengers and 6 crew members were all safe and sound.

Keep calm and carry on

Who knows, maybe the pilot had complete faith in her skills and her colleagues, or perhaps she believed God would keep her safe. Whatever her reasoning, her ability to stay calm in such circumstances is a lesson to all to try and remain composed in times of panic.

And for the faithful, this should be a little easier considering God isn’t just protecting you, He’s got a plan for you, too.

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