MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- A Northwest DC-10 landed safely here after its commanding pilot died of an apparent heart attack while in flight, an airline spokesman said.
Flight 308 from Los Angeles, carrying 290 passengers, landed without incident Sunday night at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport about 9:20 p.m., said Northwest spokesman Dennis Mollura.
The pilot, 53-year-old Capt. Thomas Christianson, became ill and had left the cockpit. He died shortly thereafter. The two other pilots in the cockpit took over immediately.
Passenger Merle Minda said the crew announced that a pilot was sick and later asked whether a doctor was on board. She said a male passenger went to the cockpit and emerged after the plane landed.
"They announced that we'd land fairly quickly and to stay in our seats," said Minda, of Minneapolis. "Then we see a lot emergency vehicles when we landed. A man was at the bottom of a stairway with a stretcher, and another man comes on board with a portable one. After a few minutes, he didn't come out with anybody. I feared it was the worst."
Christianson had been with Northwest since 1972. A medical-response team tried unsuccessfully to revive him after the plane landed.
In a prepared statement, John Dasburg, Northwest president and chief executive officer, said: "I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of Captain Tom Christianson, and on behalf of the entire Northwest Airlines family I offer my condolences and prayers to his family and colleagues."
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