Aeroflot "Drunk" Pilot Or Stroke Victim

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The passengers of Aeroflot Flight 315, a packed Boeing 767 out of Moscow for New York's JFK Dec. 28, staged a coup, demanding that a pilot be removed from the flight after hearing his severely slurred preflight announcement. Reports state that the 55-year-old captain's words, spoken in Russian, were barely intelligible and became worse when he switched to English. Some passengers claimed they couldn't tell what language he was speaking. Passengers who relayed their concerns to cabin crew were at first rebuffed and told to sit quietly or deplane. But passenger concern spread and ultimately Aeroflot representatives came aboard the aircraft to try to restore calm. It was a full half-hour before the captain emerged from the cockpit "red-faced with bloodshot eyes and unsteady on his feet," according to the Moscow Times. Then things got more interesting.

The pilot reportedly then personally addressed passengers, stating, "I'll sit here quietly in a corner. We have three more pilots. I won't even touch the controls, I promise." But by that time, the airline had summoned a new crew that ultimately took the jet to New York, three hours behind schedule. Aeroflot claims it since tested the pilot's blood and found no traces of alcohol. Finally, late last week, a report citing an Aeroflot spokesman stated that the pilot was in a Moscow hospital where he was being treated for a suspected stroke and that it was unlikely he would fly for the airline again.