Pilot, Michael Johnston, Dies During American Airlines Flight

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A photo of Michael Johnston, the US pilot who died mid-flight

The pilot who collapsed and died on an American Airlines overnight flight from Phoenix to Boston has been identified. Cpt Michael Johnston, 57, was flying the plane with 147 passengers and five crew on board when he “passed away while at work”, the airline said. The first officer took over and made an emergency landing in Syracuse.

Johnston’s wife told local TV she had been told her husband had probably died of a heart attack. He had had double heart bypass surgery in 2006. Cpt Johnston had been flying as a first officer and then as a captain since 1990. Medics waiting on the tarmac pronounced him dead at the scene.

Passengers on the flight said they had experienced a quick descent and some turbulence before hearing a member of the flight crew announce that the captain was unwell. They learned of his death on a later flight to Boston manned by a new crew.

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