Air Force Officer steps in at 737’s mid-air emergency

by advocateofentropy

Sometimes I am amazed by the things the average Joe can or is willing to do, especially in matters of life and death. Air Force Captain Mark Gungol, B1-B Lancer pilot and Assistan Director of Operations to the 13th Air Support Operations Squadron at Fort Carson, Colorado; for example.

Capt. Mark Gungol in front of his B1-B Lancer / © U.S. Air Force

Capt. Mark Gungol in front of his B1-B Lancer / © U.S. Air Force

While returning from a holiday in Des Moines with his wife and daughter, visiting the family, he proofed himself as a worthy “Everday’s Hero”, when the plane’s pilot suffered from a heart attack and he, as the seasoned airman he is, stepped in to help fly and land the plane safely at the nearest airport.

First, Gungol noticed that the engines were powering down and going to idle-status, what normally isn’t necessary a bad sign … but not a good one either. Then a flight attendant asked if any medical personnel would be amongst the passengers. Naturally, Gungol thought that a passenger in the first class had medical issues. He was alarmed, but didn’t see how he could possibly help.
Minutes later the same attendant asked if any pilots were on board. Immediatly Gungol knew that the pilot was the patient. He gave his wife a single look, she nodded and he went straight to the cockpit.
He only saw chaos: two nurses and some flight personnel were building an improvised bed for the pilot, who was hanging in his chair: sweaty and delirious. The First Officer looked at him and without a word he would accept Gungol as an experienced airmen and assigned him tot he radio and alarm control. From this point on both the female First Officer and Gungol were calm and decided to act as cool as possible, so that no further crew member would panic.
After landing safely at the Omaha Airport the pilot was brought to the nearest hospital and is recovering since. Gungol and him are in freindly contact.

“Every other airman would have done the same”, he states after praising the professionalism with which the nurses, flight attendants and the First Officer had acted in such a abnormal situation.


Well, Hut Ab!, as we say in Germany, and Chapeaus to this heroic airman. Full story can be read here.