A flying instructor died suddenly after suffering a heart attack mid-flight, according to reports.
According to a February report from the British Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), the instructor’s co-pilot initially believed he was taking a nap.
The AAIB report reveals that the post-mortem exam found the cause of death for the 57-year-old instructor to be acute cardiac failure.
The pilot, who was fully qualified, requested the flying instructor accompany him on the June 29, 2022, flight.
The instructor was on the plane for the purpose of meeting current requirements, according to the AAIB report.
They were operating a single-engine Piper PA-28-261 aircraft out of Blackpool Airport in England.
The pilot maintained a normal degree of conversation with the instructor as they taxied to the runway, according to the report.
The instructor said, “Looks good, there is nothing behind you,” as the pilot cleared a power check procedure.
The pilot saw the instructor’s head roll back shortly after takeoff, according to the AAIB report.
Thinking the instructor was feigning a nap, the pilot continued with the circuit, even as the instructor reportedly rested his head on the pilot’s shoulder during a turn.
The pilot said he believed the instructor was pulling a prank on him.
As the aircraft landed and approached the apron, the pilot noticed the instructor still remained unresponsive.
He called airport emergency services, who promptly responded and attempted to revive the instructor, though their efforts were unsuccessful, the report reads.
A post-mortem report concluded that the instructor had died of acute cardiac failure.
“His coronary arteries showed diffuse atheromatous disease (a condition where the arteries become clogged with fatty substances) and there was a coronary thrombus (blood clot) occluding his left main stem artery,” according to the report.
The instructor’s last aviation medical exam had been about four months before his death.
He’d had routine electrocardiograms, but “these were normal.”
He was known to have high blood pressure and elevated lipids, and he was overweight, the report states.
People who interacted with the instructor on the morning of the flight described him as “his normal cheerful self,” the report continued.
Three individuals who flew with the instructor on a trial flight earlier that same day also reported “he seemed well.”
“The three people who had flown with him for the trial lesson just prior to the incident flight said he seemed well and nothing abnormal had occurred,” the report notes.
READ MORE: Pilot Suffers Heart Attack Minutes after Landing Passenger Jet, Blames Vaccine