Northwest Pilot Dies in Flight

Monday, August 21st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The commanding pilot of a Northwest Airlines DC-10 died of a heart attack during a flight from Los Angeles, and a co-pilot landed the plane without incident.

The pilot of Flight 308, 53-year-old Capt. Thomas Christianson, had felt ill and left the cockpit, airline officials said.

The two other pilots in the cockpit took over immediately on the Sunday night flight. It is standard procedure on a DC-10 to have two other experienced pilots aboard, Northwest spokesman Dennis Mollura said.

Passenger Merle Minda said the crew announced that a pilot was sick and later asked if a doctor was on board.

``They announced that we'd land fairly quickly and to stay in our seats,'' said Minda, of Minneapolis. ``Then we see a lot emergency vehicles when we landed.''

The jumbo jet, carrying 290 passengers, landed without incident Sunday night at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, said Northwest spokesman Dennis Mollura.

Minda said passengers saw a paramedic enter the forward part of the plane.

``After a few minutes, he didn't come out with anybody. I feared it was the worst.''

Christianson had been with Northwest since 1972.