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Pilot flies past destination after "falling asleep"

A pilot overshot his destination by nearly 50 Kilometers after 'falling asleep at the switch'. He was however able to turn around and make it to his destination. -Daily Mail ( More...

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bbabis 15
It happens all the time in cars too and they're at the same altitude as you coming the other way. As people, WE try to do our best. As pilots, WE try to do even better. Rules help but no one can pass a law that makes us better people. As others have noted, there have been incidents of restful unconsciousness even among multi crewed flights. If flying as a single pilot, its only you to catch the onset and you need to know the tricks. You can't just roll down a window at FL350.

I hope this pilot has learned a great lesson, gets his rest, and gets another chance. The best learning is to do it wrong and live to see the consequences. I'll admit I fell asleep in a cockpit many decades ago. It was my night job after working a full plus day job. Just me and a bunch of cancelled checks in a warm cockpit on a cold night with the engines giving a steady hum. I woke up with my destination below me and made up a believable, to me anyway, story for my radio silence. It has never happened again.
Lance Neward 4
I believe lots of pilots , particularly in light planes have done it (even Charles Lindbergh in the Spirit of St Louis), but the vast majority lived to learn the lesson. I did once, delivering a Tomahawk, again after a full day's work, drone of the engine, etc., but the lesson was severely learned and I was one of the lucky ones. Does this add credence to the FAA's concern re sleep apnea?
Gary Wisdom 2
John Connerat 1
It would be great if you could share a little more about what it was like to fly checks overnight. I think I heard that it used to be a flurry of activity. Did you fly from federal reserve city to another federal reserve city, or were you taking them from small town to big town. It's funny that "out of town checks" used to take 5 business days to clear. How many nights a week did you do this, and who loaded the cargo? What else seems outdated about the adventure these days?
OmniJL 7
Beech 18 w/ cantankerous R985, penetrating Tstorms lines that build from Dallas up the Hwy 75 corridor w/ broken radars and a VOR needle (and a little help from ATC). Bat wings up, cockpit lights on bright, baseball hat pulled down and sunglasses on. Wore rubber boots as the windshield leaked and I hate wet feet. If you could keep it within 1000' it was considered a good ride. lets not talk about Winter Ops.. lol

6 stops from NW Ark to Dallas and 7 coming home. Taxi in, shut down one engine and start pitching boxes of checks out the door (color coding helped). Turn time form Ldg to TO was under 10 mins (or you heard about it from the DO).
Got fired New Years Eve because there wasnt a legal alternate within range of "Nicole". He hired me back the next morning as there were no Flight Instructors available to take my job the following night (as he had promised). lol

Then there are the nights full of stars and we could (and did) navigate via the Hale-Bopp Comet. Drinking a Mt Dew and eating sunflower seeds with feet on the dash, and my dog Lois in the copilot seat. Oil pressures steady singing as loud as I could to the cassette tape in my new walkman. The entire sky to yourself.

Kids these days have it pretty easy... lol
Mike Mohle 3
It sucked, lol. Dark, cold, icy, single engine IFR. I built some time filling in 4-5 days per month for a 135 operator in the Midwest back in the 80's. OMA, ,SUX, DSM, LNK, CID, ALO, FOD, etc. As far as I recall it was a 5/day week affair. We usually helped to load to make sure the bags were in the correct location for C/G, and so we could leave sooner!
During the Vietnam war, flying a Pave Nail OV-10 I fell asleep somewhere over western Laos. My backseater Tom Wilson was in the habit of sleeping on the way back from a mission, so he too was passed out. Anyhow, we didn't have an autopilot,so after a while the plane just rolled into a bank and the nose dropped. The prop noise from those turboprops at very high airspeed woke me up to see over 70 deg bank and about 40 deg nose low unusual attitude. I rolled wings level then pulled 5 or six Gs hoping I didn't hit the ground. Since it was pitch black with no moon, to this day I don't know whether I missed the ground by 10 feet or a couple of hundred. Needless to say Tom never slept on the way back again.
You didn’t happen to fly out of Quang Tri ?
No I was based at NKP and UBON in Thailand.
WhiteKnight77 1
When were you at NKP?
Just checking. I flew (helos) a lot of missions for the SF group out of Quang Tri to Khe San “west”. OV 10 was always our c and c ship. Be safe.
Lance Neward 6
Unfortunately, over the years this has not been an isolated incident, even in multi-pilot 121 aircraft (all three crew members were asleep), but fortunately it's very rare.
David Loh 6
I had an in incident where pilot called back to our maintenance center to say they were ready for push back but could not get any response from ground crew. I went to check and found air tug driver, headset man and third man all sound asleep. It was in the early morning after everyone had already been on the job for 9 hrs. I roused everyone and did not raise the matter with higher authorities. I can really understand how tired we all can get.
Intersting. As a Locomotive Engineer, we have an alerter button that must be pressed about every minute or so if nothing else that resets the alerter such as the horn, bell, moving the throttle. It sure does its job keeping you awake or bringing you back from la-la land when fatigue rears its ugly head. It starts as lights, then makes noise then applies a full service penalty brake application and returns the locomotives to idle if it is ignored.
Mike Mohle 1
Great idea, on more thing for "Bitchin' Betty" to vocalize. "Wake Up, Wake Up!" Then if you fall asleep, the throttle(s) will be reduced to idle!
Mike Mohle 3
Good thing he did not get out too far over the water, burning fuel needed to return!
Ralph Wigzell 3
I did several years of night freight flying back in the late 80s and fell asleep more than once. It was not uncommon to find alarm clocks in the cockpit.
AAaviator 4
"Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit amphetamines." LOL!
bentwing60 1
Lloyd Bridges might have said that! LOL! "Airplane" kinda reminded me of flyin charter.
AAaviator 1
yes, that was the reference
sparkie624 4
Reminds me of Northwest Airlines Flight 188 - "They were going over flight schedules on a laptop" -
MSReed 2
I awoke from a nap during a flight to look over to see my dad, the pilot, asleep at the controls. Basic fear kept me from dozing off for years afterward. I doubt it's as rare as we wish it were.
joel wiley 7
Reminds me of the old story "I want to go peacefully in my sleep like my uncle, not crying and screaming like his passengers".
Mike Mohle 0
patrick baker 2
;There was a bolivian airline flight going into a early flight into miami thirty years ago, that the stewardesses entered the cockpit as they had not noticed a descent into miami. All three pilots werre fast asleep. The airline was LAB, Loyd Aero Bolivia.....

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

David Adler 1
At Airventure, the FAA lecturer told of a crash in which the pilot ran into a mountain because of falling asleep.
He did the trip every week, commuting out on Monday morning, back on Friday evening.
The Friday run required an altitude change to avoid the mountain about an hour into the flight.
The pilot had a wind-up alarm clock that rang to wake him up after 45 minutes.
On his last flight, he either slept through the alarm or forgot to set it.
pedrogold 1
"The data (...) showed the trip was one of seven flights flown that day". It seems we have fatigue and excessive working hours / legs as a contributing factor for this incident. Fact is that single pilot operations should the exception and never the rule, specially on charter flights like that.
WhiteKnight77 1
I can understand him falling asleep. While I was just aircrew, I had to ensure we saw other aircraft were in sight and that we would not run afoul of them, as well as other duties while flying. Still, just flying the pattern and saying "clear left" was tiresome and every now and then, I would doze off. Luckily, we never had a collision with the GA pilots from John Wayne International that could not stay west of the big yellow MCAS that denoted Tustin's airspace 2 blocks west from the base's fenceline.
I hesitate to say "me, too" but me, too. On a flight from KJYO to JAX, we were over a solid cloud deck, bright moon above, and late at night -- absolutely gorgeous. I asked my copilot to watch the store while I snoozed. He said sure, so off I went. I woke up about 1/2 hour later, and looked to my right to see him sound asleep. Last time that ever happened.
Jake Angelo 1
My last flight was in 1974 but I did fall asleep in my Lear 45 FSX simulator on my way to KJAC. Radio woke me up...Yawn. Never dozed in the bride co=p-lot won't allow it.
Elliot Cannon 1
Flying a Beech 18 with PT-6's and still had the tail wheel. Flying between LAX and Santa Fe New Mexico on a Flying Tiger contract. I would nod off, then hear a loud voice in my head set, ATC: "hey, wake up". Me: what? ATC: turn right 20 degrees. Me: 20 degrees??? ATC: yeah, you were waaay of this time. I can laugh at that now. Way back then? Not so much.
patrick baker 1
no excuse suffices here, but i am just a bit curious about how many hours he flew in the last week, the last two weeks, and the crew rest that he served. Still, the pilot has the absolute obligation to remain awake and concious for the entire duration of the flight. If he was on the edge, the solution would have been to grab some other pilot, even a private pilot, to watch over him. , or he could have called off the trip.
bentwing60 -2
"The data, obtained by The Australian, showed the trip was one of seven flights flown that day by the Piper PA-31 Navajo VH-TWU". Might or might not have all been flown by the same pilot, and he might have been the "chief pilot" but Yawn, another 172 driver dissin a worn out pro. Go get your ATP and do a little real part 135 and get back to me. Once woke up from "the nap" in the right front seat of a Lear 25, at 430, at.80 mach, only to look over and see the other guy with his head buried in his chest, sound asleep. And he was the "chief pilot" of the joint. That was back in the day when some feds. let em get away with callin the last leg home non rev. part 91. Sometimes that turned a 14 hour day into a 17 hour day. Kinda like you private pilots, we are people too, and for us sleep deprivation, fatigue, versus keepin your job is a real consideration. So don't be so quick to adamantly condemn a guy whose job and yours don't coincide solely because you have a computer and a PPL.
jbqwik 3
I agree that before you make conclusions you need to walk in a person's shoes and understand that experience. I also agree everyone has an opinion whether I like it or not.
bentwing60 1
I blasted off from BDL one early morning in a CL60 and promptly made a left turn when I should have made a right. My boss in the right seat and the controller caught it before I did. My point, too err is human, to do it in a corporate jet sometimes is to do it in a very public way! Kudos for your objectivity. And Cheers.
wingbolt 5
I woke myself up one night snoring in my boom mic. I don’t think the flying public understands that even pilot’s have normal life events like crying babies at night, loud hotels at night, or even insomnia during a full moon. It happens more often then anyone wants to admit.
sparkie624 1
I hope the Mic wasn't Key'ed.... for over the air or PA! LOL :)
wingbolt 4
First thing that came to mind was the passenger snoring so loudly. Second thing was it was a reposition flight with no passengers. Third thing was it was a single pilot flight.

After many years of flying I have figured out that flying thru a cumulus cloud while sleeping scares me so bad it makes my bones itch. But eventually they quit itching and I motor on.
it is not unheard of for a pilot to fall "asleep at the wheel" so to be sure there will be an investigation as to how many hours the pilot had been on duty,even as a charter pilot...
Here is a little trick I use. After trimming the plane to my satisfaction I would rest my right arm on the next seat with a ring of keys in my hand and a metal pie plate on the seat. In about five or ten minutes I would hear the clang and I would be good for more than an hour. Always worked for me.
a1brainiac -4
Is that what happened to MH 370 ?


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