What really happened on the Northwest flight

By now, most people have heard of the Northwest Airline flight from San Diego to Minneapolis which overshot MSP by 120 miles and had to turn back.

Northwest Airlines plane (pic courtesy NPR)

Northwest Airlines plane (pic courtesy NPR)

But does anyone know what actually happened?  Here is the inside scoop, straight from the wings of the fly in the cockpit:

The pilot said “They are going to make Hulu a paid site, you know.”  He opened his laptop and logged in.

“That would be bad,” the co-pilot said  “but there’s always youtube.”  He spoke flippantly, because he didn’t really want to talk.  The movie he was watching was particularly gripping.

“Yes, but Jon Stewart’s show is only available on Hulu”, the pilot said.  “I download every show of his to watch in the flight.”

At this the co-pilot looked up. “Can you download from Hulu?” he asked. “I thought you couldn’t”.

“There are applications for everything”, the pilot said.  He started watching a Jon Stewart episode.

Silence reigned in the cockpit for 20 minutes.  There were occasional crackles of noise from the radio, but these were ignored.

When the comedy show ended, the pilot briefly checked his position.  They were flying somewhere over the cornfields of Nebraska.

He decided to watch a movie next.  He noticed the copilot was still engrossed in his movie.

“What are you watching?” he asked the co-pilot.

“Inglourious Basterds.”

“Oh, is it already on DVD?”


Neither pilot noticed how quickly the next hour passed.  Then the air hostess peeked into the cabin.

“Captain, may I have a word?  When are we going to land in MSP?” she asked.

The pilot looked up. “Aren’t we still over Nebraska?  Oh my God, we have passed Minneapolis!  We are over Wisconsin.”

The pilot scrambled to turn back, establish radio contact and start the descent.

They will want an explanation”, the co-pilot said. ” They will want to know what we were doing.”

“They will think we were sleeping”, the pilot said. “I’m busy with the landing now, you’ll have to think of something good”.

A few minutes passed.  “I have it!”, the co-pilot said.  “Scheduling ! We were in a heated discussion on scheduling. You were teaching me Delta’s rules.”

The pilot scoffed. “Come on, who discusses scheduling? Heated discussion on scheduling? No one will buy that”.

“You got anything better?”

“What, me? No! I am trying to land this plane! You were the one watching a pirated movie!”

Okay then, scheduling it is“.


10 thoughts on “What really happened on the Northwest flight

    • You know the kind of pilots who chat every 10 minutes and keep interrupting your nap/ reading? I think I am going to look forward to them from now on – at least I know they are awake 🙂

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