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Fact Check-Claims a COVID-vaccinated Delta pilot died during a flight are false, according to the airline and FAA

Claims by anti-vaccine commentators that a Delta Air Lines pilot died mid-flight after recently receiving a COVID-19 shot have been refuted by the company and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The claim spread online after it was initially made during an October episode of The Stew Peters Show (here), a digital broadcast that regularly shares misinformation (see here , here and here).

During the recording, a guest says she has learned from “three separate whistle-blowers directly related to Delta Air Lines” that an “LAX-based captain” died in-flight, forcing an emergency landing by the co-pilot.

She says: “A pilot died in flight, within the last — I’d say ten days, according to these sources. The co-pilot told the flight attendant that the captain was speaking normally one moment, then said a few weird things, and then died. The flight had to make an emergency landing. We are now learning this is a LAX-based captain.

“And they did land the plane safely. I’m not sure what they told the passengers on board. The co-pilot also shared with the flight attendant, who is one of the three whistle-blowers that the pilot who died had told the co-pilot that he had, just several days prior, completed his second shot in this series.” (timestamp 1.47)

The claim was also posted on other social media sites, including Twitter (here), Instagram (here), and Facebook (here).

Reuters has reached out to both the host of the show and the guest asking for any verifiable information about the alleged incident, such as the name of the pilot, as well as the flight number and location of emergency landing, but has not received a response.

Meanwhile, spokespersons from both Delta and the FAA told Reuters separately that the claim was false.

“Delta is aware of reports suggesting one of the airline’s pilots passed away from vaccine complications while operating a flight, resulting in an emergency landing. All of these allegations are false,” the airline said in an emailed statement.

The FAA, which regulates civil aviation in the United States, told Reuters that it has found “no evidence such an event occurred.”

VERDICT

False. There is no evidence that a COVID-vaccinated pilot with Delta Air Lines died mid-flight, forcing an emergency landing.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.

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