Pilot Dies After Falling Ill on Flight Headed to Boston

Boston-bound American Airlines flight 550 was forced to make an emergency landing Monday morning after the pilot became ill on the red eye flight from Phoenix.

The concerned copilot can be heard radioing in to air traffic controllers in Syracuse, New York.

According to audio from LiveATC.net the copilot said, "Medical emergency, the captain is incapacitated...As long as they have a way to get on the airplane quickly, we'll need to get to the captain thank you."

Passenger Steve Falcone said, "We were just told the pilot wasn't feeling well and they had to land in Syracuse instead of Boston.

Tom Rachal of Cape Cod, MA said, "You could tell we were landing but it was obvious we weren't in Boston."

Jason Berroa of Lynn, MA added, "When we landed there were ambulances, fire trucks, police, so we knew it must have been something serious."

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The 147 passengers and five crew members onboard the Airbus A320 were not only met by emergency crews on the tarmac, but a tarp was put up between the ambulance and the cockpit door.

American Airlines later informed passengers and confirmed to NECN that the pilot had passed away.

Michael Litterio of South Boston, MA said, "You put your life in this guy's hands, next thing you know he's gone."

Frank Cacciola of North Andover, MA said through tears, "It's just really sad, my heart goes out to the family, I think they handled it very well but who knows what really went on in the cockpit."

Many had praise for the copilot for keeping calm and landing safely in a stressful situation.

Peter McSwiggin of Middleton, MA said, "It could have been more of a disaster, I give the copilot a lot of credit for keeping his cool in mid-flight."

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