Pilot Almost Crashes After Mistaking the Planet Venus for an Aeroplane

By Sam Biddle on at

We've all felt tired to the point of being loopy, but most of the time, we're not in the cockpit of a 767, confusing a planet for another plane and sending ours into a nosedive.

Reuters reports one "sleepy Air Canada pilot" caught a glimpse of Venus, bright in the night sky, and thought it was another airplane coming straight for him. It's coming straight for us. Think quick, cap'n.

"Under the effects of significant sleep inertia (when performance and situational awareness are degraded immediately after waking up), the first officer perceived the oncoming aircraft as being on a collision course and began a descent to avoid it," Canada's Transportation Safety Board said.

In other words, to avoid steering his plane directly into Venus, the captain immediately plunged the 767 downward 400 feet toward the Atlantic Ocean, causing passengers to fly out of their seats—seven required hospitalisation. This sounds bad, and certainly highlights the problem of pilot fatigue (it is a grueling job), but it could've been much worse: imagine if he'd crashed into Venus? [Reuters]

Airplane image: Brian K/Shutterstock