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A pilot accidentally got locked in an airplane toilet on a New York-bound flight after the latch on the door jammed as the plane was about to land.
The drama unfolded onboard the Chautauqua Airlines flight on Wednesday evening, after the pilot took a mid-air toilet break and got trapped in the bathroom.
One of the passengers heard the pilot knocking on the door trying to attract attention and went to help.
Unaware of what was actually happening onboard, the co-pilot reported the captain missing over the radio. Fighter jets were nearly scrambled to shadow the commuter plane carrying 18 passengers from Asheville, North Carolina, in case of a security emergency.
The trapped captain gave the “heavily accented” passenger a password to get into the cockpit, but the alarmed co-pilot and flight attendant were still doubtful, according to audio footage released after the incident.
During an audio recording, the co-pilot can be heard saying: “The captain has disappeared in the back and I have someone with a thick foreign accent trying to access the cockpit right now and I have got to deal with the situation.
“Someone with a thick foreign accent is giving me a password to access the cockpit, and I'm not about to let him in.”
A controller declared the incident an emergency, telling the co-pilot to “just get on the ground”.
After the captain managed to free himself, the plane landed safely with the aircraft met by officials from the FBI and the Port Authority in New York at 6.30pm local time.
In a statement, Chautauqua Airlines said: “The first officer did the right thing in securing the flight deck when he was not able to personally confirm the status of the aircraft's captain.
“No one was ever in danger, and everyone, including the good Samaritan who tried to help the captain, as well as the crew, are to be commended for their actions.”