The pilot, later identified as Capt. Michael Johnston, 57, died from an unspecified illness. The Airbus A320 jet left Phoenix just before midnight Monday and diverted to Syracuse Hancock International Airport shortly after 7 a.m.
"They just said, 'Hi. We have to make an emergency landing. The pilot's not feeling well,'" said Michael Litterio. "When we landed, we thought that he just wasn't feeling well. We had no idea he had passed. It was extremely shocking."
WFXT obtained air-traffic control communications as the co-pilot of Flight 550 prepared for an early landing.
"Syracuse, American 550 is out at 15,000 for 5,000," the crew said. "Medical emergency, the captain is incapacitated. Request handling for runway, one-zero landing."
"They said that the pilot was really sick, and that was it," Julia House said." And we saw ambulances pulling up."
Passengers waited inside the airport as emergency crews removed the body and prepared the plane for another crew to fly the aircraft to Boston. The somber news was confirmed when they re-boarded the plane. The flight finally arrived at Logan Airport shortly after noon.
"I really think you've got to hand it to the co-pilot," said passenger Frank Cacciola, "because, I'll tell you, I don't know what I would've done in that situation."
Cacciola and a few other passengers took pictures of a rainbow that formed while the pilot's body was removed from the plane in Syracuse. They said the unexpected sight provided comfort.
"This rainbow came out, and the skies opened up as if his spirit was leaving the plane and going to heaven," Cacciola said.
The event formerly known as Home World has a new name and new location.Get totally inspired for spring as you find hundreds of ways to improve your home. Make your home the one you really want. Show open daily duringmall hours. Admission is free!
Landscaping and Outdoors
Get ready for Spring and Summer and transform your outdoor space into something that feels like you’re on vacation
Make sure to visit our demonstration stage during the entire show. There will be exciting demonstrations on how to re-purpose and design thanks to Monarch Market Affair.
Meet Barry Williams from The Brady Bunch
Join us as we welcome Me-TV superstar Barry Williams who played the iconic Greg Brady from The Brady Bunch TV Show. Meet him and get an autograph on February 10th stage side at center court in front of Macy’s.
The line will start forming when the Mall Opens, and Barry’s First appearance will be at 11 a.m.
Come prepared with your camera or cell phone for the Meet and Greet.