Staff Sgt. Bartek Bachleda doesn’t consider himself a hero, but passengers on a recent jumbo jet flight might beg to differ.
One of 300 passengers on a United Airlines flight from Chicago, Illinois, to Tokyo, Japan, in April, Bachleda noticed white “smoke” billowing from the left side of the Boeing 747-400 jet on takeoff and then again at cruising altitude of over 30,000 feet. He said he was sure it was a leak, a big one that could lead to a potentially dangerous situation.
Bachleda, 30, should know. He serves in an air refueling squadron in the U.S. Air Force. He videotaped the midair vapor from his window seat and tried to warn a flight attendant. But at first, she paid him no heed.
“When I initially hit the call button, she thought maybe I wanted something, and she said, ‘Sir, I’m handing out drinks, I’ll be right back with you,’ ” Bachleda said.