His name was Patrick Sondheimer.
But the name that we haven’t heard very much is this one: Captain Patrick Sondheimer.
There aren’t any photos of him. There aren’t any headlines.
But Patrick Sondheimer was the captain who was piloting the plane with Lubitz.
He was the man who left the cockpit to take a break, only to be locked out by his co-pilot.
He is the man who French investigators say can be heard asking “several times” for access to the cockpit. He received no answer. There was never any answer from Lubitz.
He banged on the door. He screamed at Lubitz: ‘Open the goddamn door!’. And then he took an axe and desperately tried to break through the electronically sealed door.
The sound of Patrick trying to break into the cockpit can be heard right up until the recording ends, when the plane crashed.
Captain Patrick Sondheimer tried to save the passengers and crew of Germanwings flight 9525. He was a hero.
But Patrick Sondheimer was also a married father of two.
He was an experienced pilot who had spent more than 6000 flying hours on A320 aircraft. He had flown with Germanwings parent company Lufthansa for ten years, and had joined Germanwings in 2014.
So today we remember Captain Patrick Sondheimer, who tried to save the plane. And, while we do not know them yet, we remember the crew of Germanwings flight 9525 who calmly told passengers to fasten their seatbelts. They hid the danger from the passengers and in doing so, they masked their own fear.
We also thank the nameless Germanwings pilot who flew that same route the next day. He greeted every passenger and made an emotional speech to the, promising he would get them home safely. His empathy and grace will be remembered by every passenger on his plane and those of us who only read about his kindness.
We remember every pilot and cabin crew member who continues to do their job so diligently despite recent airline tragedies. We remember that this and every plane crash is hard for them and their families too.
We thank the crews of all the planes that we fly to our happy occasions and our holidays. While we rarely show it, we are grateful for your help, care and skill.
Today we say thank you to you.
And thank you to Captain Patrick Sondheimer.
Yours is the name we will remember.