Quick action prevented airplane collision.
Guy Eby, 98, of Ormond Beach, saved the lives of a lot of people one day in 1975, but he never met any of them ... until recently.
Burt Herman, of Sarasota, drove to Ormond Beach on Feb. 9 to meet Eby, who was flying an American Airlines DC-10 that had a near miss with another passenger airliner over Michigan. Herman says Eby saved his life, along with hundreds of others on the two planes, with his quick action.
According to press reports at the time, the planes nearly collided in the clouds after a controller error. Eby dove under the plane, barely missing it, after seeing the cabin lights.
“You’re my hero,” Herman told Eby when they met. Herman had found Eby with an Internet search.
Eby said his only thought after the near miss was wondering if it was illusion or the real thing.
Passengers and food carts were thrown all over the plane. Eby said when he went back to the cabin, he was shocked to see red everywhere, thinking it was blood. It turned out to be the lasagna that was served for dinner. But there were injuries. They made an emergency landing and 27 people were taken to the hospital.
Eby did not tell the passengers what happened, only telling them the plane was sound. At the reunion, he asked Herman if he thought he should have told the passengers. Herman said he thought Eby did the right thing; that it was better to find out later.
Eby was in the U.S. Navy from 1942 to 1947 and started at American Airlines in 1950, working there 28 years.
When asked how he is such good shape at the age of 98, Eby said went to St. Augustine a lot and drank from the Fountain of Youth. But seriously, he said he does 10 minutes of calisthenics with dumbbells every day, taking Sundays off.