A qualified pilot from another airline stepped in to help a Southwest Airlines flight from Las Vegas after the Captain was reportedly taken ill just after departure on Wednesday morning.
Southwest Airlines flight WN6013 departed Harry Reid International Airport at around 6:40 am on Wednesday, bound for Columbus, Ohio but the Boeing 737 was forced to turn back a short time after takeoff when the Captain became incapacitated.
According to a spokesperson for the airline, the Captain was removed from the controls because he required medical attention, although the airline did not specify what was wrong with the pilot.
NBC News has reported that air traffic control radio recordings suggest the Captain started experiencing stomach pain and became incapacitated around five minutes after that.
The Captain was taken out of the flight deck to receive medical attention from the flight attendants, prompting a pilot from another airline to volunteer their assistance.
The spokesperson for the airline said the credentials of the pilot were checked before they were allowed to step foot in the flight deck and then help land the aircraft, which had diverted back to Las Vegas.
“We commend the crew for their professionalism and appreciate our customers’ patience and understanding regarding the situation,” the airline said in a statement.
“We greatly appreciate their support and assistance,” a spokesperson said of the pilot who volunteered their assistance.
Southwest did not provide an update on the condition of the Captain.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.