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So You Want To Be An Airline Pilot? Consider this.....

by John M. White |

This article is reprinted from www.barnstormers.com:

"Just another layover - Hey! What could go wrong? Especially if your layover were at an Oberoi Hotel. Face it. There are good layover hotels out there, but the Oberoi Hotels are for sure among the best. No indifferent staffers. No late night parties. No early morning construction going on one floor above yours. Clean linens and bathrooms. Blackout curtains. An air crew lounge. Discounts. You know; the best.Click on image to enlarge

So when North West Airlines Capt. Thomas B. Cook returned to the hotel from dinner the night of the 26th of November this year, he never gave a thought for his well being and proceeded to the 10th floor crew lounge. The computer and phone set up there were a convenience the crews really appreciated, and he made some Skype calls, spent a little time on the computer and headed up to his 15th floor room.

Arriving there just before 10 PM he almost immediately heard the sound of small explosions coming from the street. As his room in the Trident section of the dual tower hotel faced the water, he was without a direct view to the front of the hotel and saw nothing unusual. Capt. Cook also realized that there had been no phone call alerting him to his pick up time. (This is a call made to crew members by the hotel staff to alert them that their pick up time is coming up. It's a definite help to crew members who are constantly sleeping at odd hours while traveling among foreign time zones.)

As this call had not come, the Captain decided to call reception to find out if the flight would be operating on time. There was no answer at the front desk, and as he was then unable to reach a hotel operator he became concerned. Now, just for a moment, because the noises from the street were continuing, and given that the hotel staff were extremely attentive and would normally pick up the phone on the first ring, it crossed the Captain’s mind that there may be a "terrorist attack" going on. He looked out the window again, but everything appeared normal and he began to think his imagination had gotten the best of him. If terrorists were blowing things up out there the people he could see walking around outside the hotel would be running and scrambling.

Here Captain Cook makes a near fatal decision. He would go to the lobby to check on his pick up time. As the elevator doors opened on the lobby he saw a pool of blood and immediately pressed the button to close the doors. As the doors closed, he raised his gaze from the blood which had transfixed his stare and found himself looking directly into the barrel of an AK-47. A terrorist had turned and fired just as the doors drew closed. Had those doors operated any slower the Captains story would have ended here.

Reaching the 15th floor the Captain ran to his room and locked the door. It was now that there came many large explosions with pieces of the hotel falling into the street below. Bombs had been planted in a number of the hotels rooms and were now being remotely detonated.


The TV in his room was still operating and the stations were reporting the hotels to be on fire. Captain Cook clearly saw his quandary; outside he stood the chance of being shot; remaining in the hotel may not continue as an option with it being on fire.

At 10:45 PM the Captain was able to make contact with the Northwest Airlines Security Operations Center (SOC) in Minneapolis. They in turn were in contact with the 2 First Officers on Captain Cook's crew, both of whom were fortunately outside the hotel. Among them it was determined that the smaller Trident portion of the hotel was not on fire and that it would be safe to remain there if the terrorist did not begin searching the complex. As it played out, various section of the Oberoi/Trident Hotel complex would be held by the terrorists for the next 37 hours.

Eventually the terrorist would cut off the TV and internet, as well as the hot water. The hotel phones would continue to work and the Captain would maintain contact with North West Airlines, his family and an F/A Daryl Jones who was on the 23rd floor. North West Airlines security was able to keep them informed as best they could, but there was scant information available, other than the certainty that the hotel was not secure.

Things were quiet the following night and Captain Cook heard sounds from the hallway. Thru the peep hole he was able to see people across the hall looking out their door. These were Lufthansa flight attendants and from their Purser, still in the hotel on the 17th floor, came word that Lufthansa would send an A319 aircraft to ferry crews out whenever they were freed.

The following morning at 11:00 AM, those still remaining in the hotel were evacuated by the Indian Army. As Captain Cook departed through the lobby.

He, along with a number of Lufthansa and Air France crew members, were transported to a hotel near the airport to clean up and have some lunch, after which they all departed aboard the Lufthansa A319 bound for Frankfurt Germany.

Lufthansa had sent a head flight surgeon and others trained in Critical Incident Stress Management to assist as they could. Hotel accommodations in Frankfurt and follow on travel arrangements home had been made by Lufthansa who also provided Captain Cook a first class seat to Boston. He was met there at the aircraft door by his family and North West Airlines Boston manager Tommy Neylon. "

Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch!

JetAviator7

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