This is an old story, with some new information about what happened when an Air Canada pilot became so mentally unstable during flight that the captain elected to have him forcibly removed from the cockpit. The captain made the PA announcement that amateur pilots' dreams are made of and the answer came from one of the flight attendants, a commercially licenced pilot with an expired IFR. She occupied the right seat for the remainder of the flight.
It's not unusual for flight attendants to be licenced pilots. For those already pursuing a career as a professional pilot, the job of flight attendant provides financing and acclimatization to the lifestyle. Flight attendants who didn't plan on becoming pilots are exposed to the environment, thus susceptible to the aviation addiction, and may be sucking into the vortex. I have known more than one person who has simultaneously been working as a commercial pilot on small aircraft and working as a flight attendant for a major airline. It's not clear whether the FA in this case had professional piloting experience or just a commercial pilot licence. Either way, she proved useful to the flight and they landed safely.
Air Canada has a rigid psychological screening programme as part of their interview process. I've actually spoken with an Air Canada recruiter who says that sometimes candidates the panel really likes and who score well in the simulator are rejected by the psych evaluation. The recruiters don't get to know what was "wrong" with the rejected candidates, but I wonder if the psych screening is selecting people who think just like the white males born in the 1950s who made up the airline when the ideal pilot profile was developed.
Events like this reflect the stress involved in the responsibility for a large airplane and trying to hold an aviation career together despite economic fluctuations, mergers, pay cuts and the risk of losing everything over a medical problem that would only be a minor blip in many other careers. And I can't help thinking that it's a tiny piece of vengeance for the people whose career progress was halted because they would or would not "like to see a film about an otter" or did or did not "prefer gardening to making wooden toys."
Oh and I asked Magic 8-Ball if I would be an airline pilot again and it told me You May Rely On It. I guess I should do something about that then, eh?Edit: Reader Christopher provides a link to the report made by the Chief Inspector of Air Accidents in Ireland (where the flight landed). It shows that the captain didn't make an Airplane!-like call for pilots, merely asked an FA to check the manifest for company pilots, and gives some interesting details on the removal. The report commends the captain for his good CRM and professional actions, and also mentions that the FO's condition improved in hospital.