Extraordinary People

Dad saves the day after EasyJet pilot goes missing – by flying the plane himself

One man refused to let a delay come between him and his family getaway.

After the frantic final check for passports as the clock ticks by, there’s nothing quite like the buzz of leaving the house for a holiday.

Though you will know the crushing feeling of arriving at the airport only to be told your flight has been delayed, or worse, cancelled.

Yet one man refused to let a little delay come between him and his family getaway – and decided to fly the plane himself.

So, when Michael Bradley arrived at Manchester to discover his flight to Spain was delayed for hours due to a pilot going AWOL, he entered the cockpit and saved the day.

[Credit: Daniele Resti Dndo]

Before you start hatching plans for when this might happen to you though, you may need to enrol on an aviation course as Michael is a fully-qualified pilot himself.

Not only does Michael hold a pilot’s licence, he also works for EasyJet – the same airline group he booked on for his Alicante adventure.


Sharing his story with the passengers, Michael spoke over the loudspeaker to reveal what had happened and to reassure them they were in safe hands.

Michael said: “My wife, who’s on row 15 with my little boy – hopefully he’s asleep by now, I should keep it down or else I’ll get told off – said, ‘Our flight’s delayed by two hours because they are minus one captain for the flight.’

“So, just before we went through security, I thought I wonder if this is worth a phone call, I think it is because I’d like to go on holiday.”

Michael continued: “I phoned up EasyJet and said, ‘Hiya, I’m standing in the terminal doing nothing. I have got my licence with me. I have got my ID with me and I’d very much like to go on holiday, and if you need a favour, I’m standing here ready to go.’

“They said, ‘We’ll phone you back.’

“Thirty-eight seconds later, they phoned me back and said, ‘Please, please pretty please with a big cherry on top, can you fly the aeroplane to Alicante?’”

The flight’s delay was due to the knock-on effects of an air traffic control failure in France over the weekend, meaning the airline was forced to rely on standby cabin crew.

Consequently, the pilot who was believed to have gone AWOL had actually been on standby and had to make his way from Liverpool to Manchester before flying the plane.

Next time, Michael need not bother turning his out-of-office on.

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