Northwest Flight 188 took off last Wednesday evening and air-traffic controllers lost contact about 7 p.m., according to the National Transportation Safety Board. By the time communication with the aircraft was re-established, the jet had flown past Minneapolis, where it was supposed to land.
As a result, nearly 150 folks who left sunny San Diego from Lindbergh Field had more than 300 extra miles to put their trays in an upright position.
On Monday night, the Late Show host had a few thoughts on why the pilots might have missed their spot on the tarmac. His Top 10 list concluded with:
No. 3: "According to our map, we only missed target by half an inch"
No. 2: "For a change, decided to send luggage to the right city and lose the passengers"
No. 1: "Thought we saw Balloon Boy"
Since they plane landed, officials said they were looking into whether fatigue played a role, though investigators said the pilots told them they were using their laptops to go over crew scheduling.
On Tuesday , federal regulators revoked the licenses of the pilots, first officer Richard Cole of Salem, Ore., and captain Timothy Cheney of Gig Harbor, Wash. The Federal Aviation Administration said the pilots had violated numerous regulations, including failing to comply with air traffic control instructions and clearances and operating carelessly and recklessly.
The pilots' union had cautioned against a rush to judgment. The pilots, who said they had no previous accidents or safety incidents, have 10 days to appeal the emergency revocation.