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On a given flight, let's say a commercial flight with about 100 passengers and a few flight attendants, what are the odds that I (or any other individual) am the most qualified person to fly the plane, after the pilots?

I call myself a pilot very loosely here. I fly paragliders (so I trust my own life to my flying skills, and know a little bit about airspace, etc.), I've flown lots of simulators, RC aircraft, and have started ground school, but haven't yet done any actual flight in powered aircraft.

I'm sure many aviation enthusiasts and non-commercial pilots have thought about a scenario where the pilots of their flight are somehow incapacitated. Maybe someone frantically gets on the PA and asks if anyone knows how to fly a plane. I've wondered if I should even speak up in that situation? (should that be a separate question?) I'm not a great choice to fly the plane, but what are the chances that I'm the best we've got?

I guess to generalize the question, what are the odds that a given person on a flight has some reasonable level of flight experience?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by mins, GdD, kevin, Ralph J, SMS von der Tann Oct 24 '17 at 15:42

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ We all can dream, can't we? But reality will turn out different: aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/8986/… $\endgroup$ – Peter Kämpf Oct 24 '17 at 7:16
  • $\begingroup$ Peter, I like your answer on that one think that's probably right about panic (but, I don't think panicking people would necessarily prevent someone from reaching the flight deck, they'd scream, but would they leave their seats?) and also agree that the flight crew wouldn't ask that question, but what if they felt they had no other option? This question differs from that one though, it asked if a completely inexperienced person could fly based on radio instruction alone. I'm not completely inexperienced, though admittedly, pretty close. $\endgroup$ – notloc Oct 24 '17 at 7:47
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    $\begingroup$ Mins, I know there is no real answer for this. But maybe something along the lines of "2% of the general population hold a private pilot license, so on a flight of 100 people, odds are that two are private pilots, which would make them more qualified than you" except, I don't know the right numbers. $\endgroup$ – notloc Oct 24 '17 at 7:53
  • $\begingroup$ This sounds a bit like you're asking how likely United Airlines Flight 232 is. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Oct 24 '17 at 8:02
  • $\begingroup$ When people ask about the usefulness of PC flight simulators when learning to fly, I think about how useful would a PC bike simulator be when learning to cycle. If a paraglider is analogous to a high performance mountain bike here, the airliner would be a Harley. Yes, you know about handling and flight dynamics for paragliders and RC aircraft, but not for big iron. You won't know the systems, the operating procedures etc. The crewmember who tried to save Helios 522 had a CPL but couldn't work out how to turn the radio on $\endgroup$ – Dave Gremlin Oct 24 '17 at 10:31