FACT CHECK: Viral Image Claims A Vaccinated Delta Pilot Recently Died Mid-Flight

Ryan King | Contributor

A viral Instagram post claims a vaccinated Delta Air Lines pilot died during a recent flight.

Verdict: False

There is no evidence the incident occurred. Delta Air Lines refuted the claim in a statement.

Fact Check:

The Instagram post includes a screen grab of a blog post from Dr. Joseph Mercola, who has, according to The New York Times, spread COVID-19-related misinformation in the past. It briefly references the over 2,000 flights that Southwest canceled over the weekend due to what the airline described as air traffic control and weather issues.

“Vaxxed Delta Pilot Dies In-Flight; Southwest Flights Have Mass Cancellations,” reads text inside the image. “Delta pilot who died in-flight within the last 10 days. The co-pilot said he just suddenly died. The co-pilot also shared that the pilot said he’d just gotten his second COVID shot a few days earlier.”

The claim about a vaccinated Delta pilot dying mid-flight was also recently spread by Dr. Jane Ruby on “The Stew Peters Show.” In her appearance on the show, she alleged three sources had told her a vaccinated pilot based out of Los Angeles died mid-flight recently, causing an emergency landing of the aircraft. Ruby previously falsely claimed the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine contains graphene oxide, an allegation Check Your Fact has debunked.

“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,” a spokesperson for Delta Air Lines said in an emailed statement to Check Your Fact. “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.”

A spokesperson for the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), the union that represents Delta pilots, told Check Your Fact via email that they had “no knowledge” of the alleged incident described in the Instagram post. The Federal Aviation Administration also said in an email to Check Your Fact it has “found no evidence such an event occurred.”

Incidents resulting in planes making emergency landings often make headlines. Had a vaccinated Delta pilot actually died mid-flight and caused an  emergency landing, it likely would have garnered coverage from major news outlets. (RELATED: Does The VAERS Website Say COVID-19 Vaccines Are Connected To More Deaths Than All Other Vaccines Combined?)

The three COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. – Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson — are safe and effective, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states on its website. They “have undergone and will continue to undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history,” according to the CDC.

The U.S. has administered over 404 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to date, according to data displayed on the CDC website.

Ryan King