Is On a Wing and a Prayer’s Dan Favio an Actual Person? Where is He Now?

Image Credit: FS MaNiA/YouTube

A Sean McNamara directorial venture, ‘On a Wing and a Prayer’ is an incredible true story of heroism and faith. The plot follows Doug White (Dennis Quaid), who travels to Marco Island, Florida, with his family after the death of his brother, Jeff, who dies of a heart attack. While returning home to Archibald, Louisiana, on King Air 200 N559DW plane (which Doug owned in real life and leased through his company, White Equipment Leasing LLC), their pilot suffers a similar fate as Doug’s brother, forcing him to take control of the plane.

Although Doug has past flying experience, it hasn’t prepared him for his current circumstances. But with the help of several air traffic controllers and a flight instructor, he manages to successfully land the plane at Fort Meyer, Florida. One of these flight instructors is Dan Favio.

Dan Favio is Based on a Real Person

Yes, Dan Favio is based on a real person. In the film, Favio, as a character, gets the most screen time besides the White family and Sorenson. In real life, before joining the civilian air control, Favio served in the US Navy, which explains his impressive physique and tattoos. It is implied in certain reports that Favio was involved in sensitive missions for the US government, and he can’t publicly speak about them. At some point before leaving the US forces, he worked as a military controller.

The incident of 2009 Easter gives a glimpse of his ability to be calm and collected in a strenuous situation. It hadn’t been 10 minutes after the take-off when the pilot of the King Air fell unconscious, leaving Doug with no other choice but to take control of the plane. The first ground crew that learned about the situation was at the Miami Air Route Traffic Control Center, where air traffic controller and pilot Lisa Grimm helped Doug calm down and gain some understanding of the cockpit he was in. Although Doug had previously flown airplanes before and had a pilot’s license, he had never flown a King Air,

Eventually, Doug was handed over to Fort Meyer Airport, where Favio was one of the air controllers. As the emergency unfolded, Favio was brought in by his fellow air traffic controllers because of his prior experience with airplane operations, but it was not quite expansive, and he was yet to earn the qualification to operate the radar console in Tracon.

Image Credit: FS MaNiA/YouTube

Favio’s boss got a hold of Brian Norton, a veteran with 19-year experience and a pilot, who took over the communication with Doug. Meanwhile, Favio recalled his friend Kari Sorenson, who could virtually fly anything and contacted him. It was soon proven to be the correct decision. Even though Sorenson hadn’t flown a King Air plane since 1995, he still had the manuals and cockpit layout. The entire thing became a chain of information. Sorenson relayed what he knew to Favio, who then told Nortin, who then informed Doug. Despite the chaotic nature of this, Sorenson, Favio, and Norton managed to help Doug learn how to fly a King Air within 20 minutes and thus played a pivotal role in the survival of the White Family.

Dan Favio is Leading a Quiet Life Today

Favio was reportedly 29 years old when the incident happened. Before Fort Meyer, he was posted for two years at Danbury, Connecticut, where he met Sorenson. He was then transferred to Naples, Florida, where he spent one and a half years before he was sent to Fort Meyer.

About a year after the incident, Favio received the National Air Traffic Controller Association’s Archie League Medal of Safety Award along with five other people involved in the incident. As the film’s postscript reveals, he eventually became control room certified. Not much is known about him beyond this.

Read More: Is On a Wing and a Prayer’s Brian Norton Based on a Real Person? Where is He Now?