Civil Aviation

Boeing 727 flight engineer recalls that time when his airliner took off with just one passenger

Boeing 727 with one passenger

‘I was the flight engineer on a 727 in the first few months with my airline,’ Tim Hibbetts, Boeing 727 flight engineer and airline pilot, recalls on Quora.

‘Our reserve crew had been called up to go and pick up some passengers that had been stranded by a malfunctioning L-1011. We would rush down empty and pick them up, taking half of them to New York, their final destination. As we were ready to close the door, a passenger practically skidded aboard, having run down the jetway. Out of breath, he wheezed, “Almost didn’t make it!”

Empty airplane

‘He looked around, saw an otherwise empty airplane, and remarked that we must not have started boarding yet. The flight attendants assured him we had and were closing the door. He peered around with narrowed eyes, perhaps looking for Allen Funt [Allen Funt was an American television producer, director, writer and television personality best known as the creator and host of Candid Camera from the 1940s to 1980s] and his camera crew. They assured him it was time to go, so he started to move back to his seat somewhere in the middle of the aircraft. The flight attendants stopped him, motioning to business-class seat, “Please, sir.”

‘He was flabbergasted. All four flight attendants pampered him and told me his name was Lloyd, so I patterned all my PAs to him. As we descended into the airport, I modified my approach announcement, “…we’ve certainly enjoyed having you aboard, Lloyd, and if you can find a few friends, we’d love to fly all of you sometime soon.”’

Hibbetts concludes;

‘He was as delighted as you could imagine.’

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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