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Passenger Notices Plane Losing Altitude, Enters Cockpit and Sees an Empty Seat – Story of the Day

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By Rita Kumar
May 20, 2022
07:00 P.M.

Harry was on a flight to a business trip when he felt the plane shake as it entered turbulence. The passengers screamed in fear, and he realized the plane was descending roughly and would crash any minute. Harry rushed into the cockpit for help and froze after finding the pilot's seat empty.


Harry Thomas's life was defined by his beloved wife, Jenny, and their 6-year-old daughter, Chloe. Jenny was eight months pregnant with their second child, and Harry couldn't be more thrilled.

The loving dad he was, Harry always made sure he spent more time with his family. In other words, his neighbors often envied their family evenings in the backyard filled with barbecues and movie nights on the projector.

Some even wondered why Harry was so happy because most of them knew Harry was drowning in debt and hadn't had a promotion in two years…

Harry was a middle-class man who lived happily with his wife, Jenny, and daughter, Chloe. | Source: Pexels


Harry was a manager in a software company in town. It was a regional office of a larger company in the neighboring state. He was lucky to land a job there, and it helped him pay off his credits on time. He worked hard day and night to repay all his debts and save enough money to buy a bigger house for his family.

"Oh my God, I don't believe this!" Harry shrieked in horror after seeing the pilot's seat empty. "Where is the pilot???"

But for that, Harry badly needed a promotion. Even his colleagues and close friends wished he got one.

"How I wish I get a surprise promotion and a handsome package!" he often joked in the office.


It was already Friday, and Harry hurried from the office with his friends to a local bar. It was their hotspot to de-stress and forget the daily humdrum routine work.

Even there, Harry would often discuss his future with his friends. But all his dreams were tied to just one thing, a promotion he'd been only dreaming of. But when he returned to work the following Monday, there was some good news waiting.

It seemed like an usual Monday when Harry returned to work after a long weekend. | Source: Unsplash


"…. It's good to hear, Mr. Thomas. So I called to let you know that the boss wants to meet you in a couple of days," the company's secretary, Miss Elena, informed Harry. "I'll send you the flight tickets and hope you have a good journey."

Harry was overly excited because he anticipated a promotion. His records were clear, and his performance peaked over the previous years. He just knew it and couldn't stop dreaming.

He hurried home after work and shared the good news with Jenny. Though she was happy, she advised him not to expect too much and stay prepared for a formal meeting.

"Of course, I'd be on cloud nine if you get promoted," Jenny encouraged Harry, who knew she wasn't being negative but just wanted him to be prepared for the alternative.


Harry was set to leave on Wednesday afternoon. The taxi waiting to take him to the airport, his things were moved in, and he was all set to go. Although this wasn't the first time he was going on a business trip, something felt awkward this time.

Harry took a taxi to the airport in town. | Source: Pexels


"Bye, papa…and don't be away for long…love you!" were the last few words he heard from his daughter Chloe. Harry kissed Jenny and his daughter goodbye and boarded the cab. For some reason, he was worried and wished he just got an email about his meeting rather than have to visit his boss in person.

He reached the airport around half an hour later. Since he had to collect necessary documents from his office, it took time. The airport wasn't large but rather moderately-sized for domestic air travel. The single-engine airplanes there only carried 20 to 30 passengers, nothing more than that. Harry boarded one of these flights that day.

The plane took off while he sat by the window, dreaming about his promotion. Around half an hour later, the plane shuddered. Although Harry wasn't new to turbulence, this felt strange…


The passengers aboard the flight freaked out after it shook due to turbulence. | Source: Pexels

"What's going on?" the passengers chorused. Even Harry knew something was wrong. Moments later, the stewardess rushed around the cabin, panicking.


"Please stay in your seats…please, everyone, don't move," she shouted.

At this point, the people on board were frightened, and Harry wanted to know what was wrong. When the stewardess went away into the cockpit, he couldn't remain calm anymore and followed her.

"Oh my God, I don't believe this!" Harry shrieked in horror after seeing the pilot's seat empty. "Where is the pilot???"

He walked forward and found the pilot holding his chest, unconscious on the floor. He checked the man's pulse and found out that he was still alive. But the plane was descending uncontrollably. From Harry's knowledge, none of the passengers knew how to operate an aircraft because they were all familiar.


Harry froze after finding the cockpit empty. | Source: Unsplash

"I have to hurry…I have to do this…." Harry mumbled in fear as he grabbed the pilot's headphones and put them on. He told the controller about the mishap, and with zero knowledge of flying a plane, he mustered the courage to operate it.


"Yes, yes… that's right. Just align the aircraft with the horizon," the coordinator instructed Harry. "Yes, that one is the navigator, just head for it, and I'll send you the coordinates…."

Harry did just what was told. He was sweating, and his hands trembled, but he knew his life and the lives of the 20+ passengers were in his hands now.

Around 15 minutes into the horrific flight, Harry flew to the nearest airfield with ample airstrips for an easy landing. As the plane neared the spot, he was sweating even more. He knew a single mistake would crash the plane along with all their lives and dreams.

"Stay calm. You can do it…you can do it," the coordinator encouraged Harry. Moments later, the plane shuddered again, but it had already landed on the destined airstrip this time.


Harry couldn't believe his eyes and what he had just done. He breathed heavily and rushed out of the cockpit to bring help to carry the pilot to an ambulance.

"Hurry up, this way," the stewardess rushed while Harry and two other men followed with the pilot in their arms…

Harry followed the instructions from the coordinator & flew the flight to safety. | Source: Pexels


The man was taken away in the ambulance. All the passengers on the ill-fated flight thanked Harry and couldn't stop crying. Harry saw a guy wave at the gate and met him shortly after.

"Good gracious, Mr. Thomas!… I'm Jacob…You saved so many lives!" the coordinator thanked Harry. "The journalists must be here soon to interview you."

But Harry refused to stay back. He pictured his wife and daughter, and he wanted to rush home and hug them. Moments later, Harry was driven home by taxi. He'd forgotten about his business trip and his promotion.

"Oh, darling! I'm glad you're okay," Jenny cried after Harry narrated the entire incident. Shortly after, several journalists flocked outside Harry's home to interview him. Soon, the small-town dad became the talk of the state and famous for saving the lives of 25 people, including himself.


Several journalists flocked outside Harry's house to interview him. | Source: Pexels

"I JUST WANTED TO GET A PROMOTION, BUT I BECAME A ONE-DAY PILOT," read some of the leading dailies that narrated Harry's brave act.


Harry's boss called him shortly after and revealed his promotion. "The other details will be sent via mail…congrats on your new role as our General Manager, Mr. Thomas...I'm so proud of you!" the boss spoke.

Harry was emotional. He laughed, cried, and mumbled because he couldn't believe what he'd just heard. He relaxed on the balcony dreaming about his new role, and saw an airplane cross high above his area. He smiled, looking at it, and realized that heroes aren't born. They're made!

Harry was promoted & he realized that heroes were made out of the most unpredictable situations. | Source: Pexels


What can we learn from this story?

  • Sometimes, bravery in an unpredictable situation can make an ordinary person a hero. Harry had taken the flight to meet his boss, and he anticipated a promotion. He was just a small-town man who ended up saving the lives of 25 people after he single-handedly flew the plane and landed it without any knowledge of flying a plane.
  • Don't panic during danger but muster the courage to overcome it. After the turbulence, all the passengers shouted in panic. Even Harry was frightened, but he gathered the courage to find out what went wrong and tackled the situation without giving in to fear.

If you liked reading this story, here's one about how a girl caring for an old man with trembling hands gets confused after seeing him sit at the piano.

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