Vaccinated pilot did not die mid-flight

21 October 2021
What was claimed

A vaccinated pilot died mid-flight, causing an emergency landing.

Our verdict

This appears to be based on a widely debunked claim that a pilot working for Delta Airlines died during a flight. There is no evidence this happened.

An Instagram post claims that a vaccinated pilot died during a flight causing an “emergency landing and uproar in the aviation industry”. 

While the screenshot used on Instagram doesn’t specify the airline involved, the article the image comes from gives more detail. It claims the pilot worked for the US company Delta Airlines—something the airline has denied.

This claim is thought to have first been made by Dr Jane Ruby, a guest on an American podcast hosted by Stew Peters.

In a statement issued on 13 October, Delta Airlines said: “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 pandemic has been an incredibly tragic time for many, and our hearts go out to the hundreds of thousands of families of those who have passed away from the horrific virus.”

The US Federal Aviation Administration has also been repeatedly quoted as saying that it had found “no evidence such an event occurred”.  

US fact checkers PolitiFact checked the Aviation Global Incident Map, which tracks aviation incidents, and found no emergency landings involving a Delta flight around the time the claim was made. 

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as false because there is no evidence a vaccinated pilot died during a Delta Airlines flight.

Full Fact fights bad information

Bad information ruins lives. It promotes hate, damages people’s health, and hurts democracy. You deserve better.