Reports of ‘Incapacitated’ Airline Pilots Stoke Concerns, Calls for Investigations

Reports of ‘Incapacitated’ Airline Pilots Stoke Concerns, Calls for Investigations
Reports of ‘Incapacitated’ Airline Pilots Stoke Concerns, Calls for Investigations

Considering that airline pilots are “a very healthy” segment of the population, it’s disturbing to see a recent cluster of pilots becoming “incapacitated,” said Josh Yoder, president of U.S. Freedom Flyers, an aviation advocacy group.

During the past month, seven airline pilots have suffered sudden medical problems according to U.S. Freedom Flyers and Dr. William Makis, a Canadian doctor who has been documenting the trend worldwide.

Two of the incidents happened in the United States; both flights had to be diverted so the pilots could receive medical care. The remaining five incidents occurred in other countries.

The latest incident, on March 25 in Romania, involved a pilot who was just 30 years old, Makis said, citing a news report.

Based on private conversations with other pilots, Yoder and Makis believe many more medical emergencies are likely escaping public notice.

Epoch Times Photo
Josh Yoder, president of U.S. Freedom Flyers. (Josh Yoder)

“I’ve been doing speaking events about COVID-19 vaccine injuries, and I’ve had pilots meet with me directly after the events, and they relayed to me stories about close calls and cardiac incidents that never make it into the news,” Makis told The Epoch Times.




Although the COVID-19 vaccination status of the seven pilots in the March incidents was unknown, Makis and Yoder are both concerned about the implications for aviation safety.

Sudden medical crises have occasionally struck pilots over the years. “But it’s never happened with the frequency that we’ve seen over the past year-and-a-half,” said Yoder, 37, a pilot for 14 years, told The Epoch Times.

Pilots must comply with strict medical standards and undergo regular tests to ensure they are healthy enough to fly safely.

Yet many pilots complied with “jab-or-job” ultimatums and got the COVID-19 shots, Yoder said, increasing concerns that side effects from the shots could be manifesting in these recent incidents.

But that possibility is politically charged; investigators seem reluctant to delve into it, Yoder and Makis agree.

Yoder said medical privacy considerations further enshroud these incidents. He said information is kept under wraps “unless the pilots themselves or their families are willing to speak out, which they usually aren’t.”

Airlines Confirm 2 US Incidents

Few details have emerged about the two recent incidents involving U.S. pilots.

In an email to The Epoch Times, Southwest Airlines said the term “incapacitated” may not be accurate in describing the March 22 incident involving one of its pilots.

However, that word was repeatedly used during air-traffic control radio transmissions about the incident, which The Epoch Times obtained from

Southwest Flight 6013 was heading from Las Vegas to Columbus, Ohio, and had to return to the Las Vegas airport “when one of our pilots needed medical attention,” the airline said.

A person speaking on the recording says that the captain of that flight, a 47-year-old male, initially complained he was suffering stomach pain.

About five minutes later, the pilot “fainted, or became incapacitated of some sort,” then regained consciousness about a minute later, the reporting person said.

An airplane flies between the air traffic control tower and the Washington Monument at Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport on Monday, Aug. 10, 2015. For more than three years, the government has kept secret a study it requested that found air traffic controllers work schedules often lead to chronic fatigue, making them less alert and endangering the safety of the national air traffic system, according to report on the study obtained by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
An airplane flies between the air traffic control tower and the Washington Monument at Washington’s Ronald Reagan National Airport on Aug. 10, 2015. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo)

Sometimes, stomach discomfort is “referred pain” from another area of the body, Makis said, noting it’s hard to tell what happened to the Southwest pilot without additional information.

When the Southwest pilot fell ill, “a credentialed pilot from another airline” happened to be on board, Southwest said. That pilot “entered the flight deck and assisted with radio communication while our Southwest pilot flew the aircraft,” the airline said.

“We greatly appreciate their support and assistance.”

As the plane was preparing to land, a person on the recording said the Southwest pilot who took ill was in the back of the aircraft with a flight attendant and “we need to get him on an ambulance immediately.”

After the plane landed safely in Las Vegas, another crew was assigned to fly the aircraft to its destination.

“We commend the crew for their professionalism and appreciate our customers’ patience and understanding regarding the situation,” Southwest said.

Southwest Airlines declined to answer further questions about the pilot’s condition.

The other recent known incident in the United States involved a United Airlines flight on March 11.

In an email to The Epoch Times, the airline said: “United flight 2007 from Guatemala City to Chicago landed safely in Houston at 5:39 p.m. to address a medical situation. New crew members were assigned, and the flight subsequently departed Houston for Chicago at 8:00 p.m. (local time).”

The Epoch Times provided United Airlines with a link to a report from an independent media outlet, CDM.Press.

The airline did not dispute the report, which asserted that an internal United Airlines document showed that the left-seat captain suffered chest pains, and the right-seat pilot took over flying the aircraft.

Yoder said he “spoke with sources close to the incident who confirmed a pilot was removed from the flight after experiencing significant cardiac symptoms.”

Further Investigation Urged

Regardless of whether the COVID-19 shots played any role in these cases or other recent incidents, Yoder faults the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for failing to investigate.

When asked to comment on such cases, the FAA has repeatedly stated that it “has seen no credible evidence of aircraft accidents or incapacitations caused by pilots suffering medical complications associated with COVID-19 vaccines.”

Yoder acknowledged that it’s difficult to prove whether sudden health issues may be related to aftereffects of the COVID shots.

“But this isn’t just about the vaccine,” he said. “We’re seeing a safety signal, and that safety signal is not being adequately addressed.”

“While people will say that’s anecdotal information, it needs further investigation,” Yoder said.

He and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) have accused the FAA of turning a blind eye to the possibility that COVID-19 shots adversely affect the health of some pilots.

In a March 15 Twitter post, Yoder shared an image of an FAA document sent to a pilot.

The letter reminded the pilot that he was required to report any change in his health because of his “history of possible vaccine-induced myocarditis,” which is heart inflammation.

Despite such situations, Yoder is troubled that the FAA continues to allow COVID-19 injections for pilots.

Additional Concerns

Every day, about 45,000 flights traverse America’s skies, according to the FAA.  Fourteen years have passed with no fatal commercial airline crashes. So no one is saying that the skies are unsafe. But recent computer failures, near-collisions, and the apparent increase in pilot incapacitations are all concerns that need to be addressed, Yoder said.

Makis cited three additional factors that have heightened his concerns.

Some people in aviation circles have been pressing to allow airlines to switch to single-pilot operations instead of requiring two pilots in the cockpit. If that happens, an incapacitated pilot would have no backup.

In addition, Makis is aware of some pilots who have been allowed to undergo “virtual” health examinations instead of in-person screenings. He wonders whether key health indicators could be missed during the online “visits.”

Epoch Times Photo
A doctor with Anne Arundel County Fire Department reads an electrocardiogram result in Glen Burnie, Maryland, on October 28, 2020. (Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images)

And in the United States, Makis notes, the FAA recently widened the acceptable range of a heart test for pilots. This raises concerns that pilots will now be cleared to fly when they formerly would have been referred for additional health tests.

Makis is not a pilot and has no special knowledge of aviation. But he blogs about patterns he sees in health; that’s why reports of pilot incapacitation caught his attention.

He is working with others to gather data about “emergencies in the air.” Makis describes himself as “an independent physician who is concerned about what’s going on.”

Regardless of whether the COVID shots have anything to do with these pilot incidents, “I think that there should absolutely be, you know, proper scientific medical investigation of this phenomenon,” Makis said.

“I’m seeing a definite increase in the frequency of these incidents,” he said, “and we need to get to the bottom of it.”

What do you think?

Written by colinnew

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