The Anti-Sully

When a pilot comes on the intercom and slurs his way through the preflight announcements, it’s time for an intervention. That thought occurred to passengers on an Moscow-New York Aeroflot flight, but when they voiced their concerns, the flight crew told them to “stop making trouble” or get off the Boeing 767. When pilot Alexander Cheplevsky finally emerged from the cockpit, his eyes were bloodshot and he was unsteady on his feet. “I don’t think there’s anyone in Russia who doesn’t know what a drunk person looks like,” said one passenger. “At first, he was looking at us like we were crazy. Then, when we wouldn’t back down, he said, ‘I’ll sit here quietly in a corner. We have three more pilots. I won’t even touch the controls, I promise.’” Passengers and crew were at an impasse until socialite Ksenia Sobchak, who was also on the plane, came to their rescue and all four pilots were replaced. Three weeks later, the airline is still insisting the pilot wasn’t drunk—it says he may have had a stroke.