Southwest Airlines employees on a flight between Chicago and Salt Lake City helped bring about the miracle of life Friday morning before the plane could make an emergency landing in Denver, airline officials said.
The flight, Southwest 441, was scheduled to fly to Boise after stopping at Salt Lake City. Southwest officials say it appears the woman and her family were headed to Boise, but it isn't clear if the family lives here or planned a visit.
"Whoa," Captain Gary Jesperson said after the airplane finally made its way to Boise. "We were enjoying a beautiful day and the weather. Then (a flight attendant) said 'We have a woman going into labor.' I'm going, 'OK, that changes things.' "
Flight attendant Lisa Hamm said the woman, who didn't appear to be that far along in her pregnancy, rang the bell about halfway into the flight and said she was in labor.
"That's when my training kicked in," said Hamm, who notified the pilot and rallied the crew along with flight attendant Sherry Osborne.
Together, they found a medical doctor and two nurses, turned the rear galley into a delivery room, and gathered baby blankets from willing passengers.
About 10 minutes later and 100 miles north of Denver, the woman gave birth. Both mother and baby appeared to be well, Osborne said.
"She seemed great, but shocked," Osborne said.
Jesperson said in his 28 years as a pilot, this is the first time he's ever had a passenger give birth on the airplane.
"That's the best emergency I've ever had," said 1st Officer Seth Koppenhaver.
When the plane landed in Denver, a paramedic led the way with the baby swaddled in donated blankets as emergency workers took the woman and newborn off the plane.
The passengers applauded, Hamm said.
"It was an early Christmas present," she said.
The flight crew decided the baby's nickname: Peanut.
"That's right, don't you think?" Osborne said. "It was a great day; this goes to the top of the list."
Officials with the Medical Center of Aurora, Colo., say both mother and baby were doing fine.