Melburn McBroom was not an easy man to approach, so when the aircraft he was piloting developed a problem with the landing gear, the rest of the crew kept silent.
It eventually ran out of fuel and crashed, killing 10 people in the United States in 1978.
The tale is relayed to pilots in training as an example of a crash caused by a mistake that could have been prevented - and cited in a book on why emotional intelligence in the workplace is so important.
"The cockpit is a microcosm of any working organisation," writes Daniel Goleman, in his book Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More than IQ.
"But lacking the dramatic reality check of an airplane crash, the destructive effects of miserable morale, intimidated workers or arrogant bosses - or any of the dozens of other permutations of emotional deficiencies in the workplace - can go largely unnoticed by those outside the immediate scene."
But the costs, Goleman continues, can be measured in decreased productivity, more missed deadlines, mistakes, mishaps and an exodus of employees.
So what is emotional intelligence and how do managers use it?
"Emotional intelligence is a set of emotional and social skills which help us function effectively when on our own and when with others," says Joe Bruce, a psychologist with Innovative HR Solutions in Dubai.
Those skills help us perceive others and express ourselves, cope with challenges and develop and maintain relationships.
Most of us have heard of someone who struggled at school but became successful in the real world, or another who excelled in their studies but did not end up fulfilling their potential, says Mr Bruce.
The difference is the successful person has spades of emotional intelligence.
"Studies have reported various estimates of how predictive emotional intelligence is of workplace performance suggesting that it can account for anything up to 60 per cent of workplace success," says Mr Bruce.
In sales positions, high scores in assertiveness, happiness and optimism have been shown to be good predictors of success, while independence is important for teachers and people working in the medical profession.
"Whether teaching or diagnosing, making decisions and taking control without needing to consult others is essential," says Mr Bruce.
The ability to see a situation for what it really is crucial for senior managers as people who are overly optimistic or fear the worst may struggle to make sound decisions.
But the good news is people can learn to become better at working with their emotions.
"In order to do this, we must first understand our own emotional intelligence levels," says Mr Bruce.
Tools such as the EQ-i, a system designed to measure emotional intelligence through examining a subject's answers to a series of questions, can help. But people can also try to be more aware of their behaviour towards others.
Goleman cites a vice president who tore into an experienced software developer as an example of how not to criticise staff.
"[As] the engineer finished his presentation, the vice president turned to him and asked sarcastically, "How long have you been out of graduate school? These specifications are ridiculous. They have no chance of getting past my desk."
This approach seriously damaged the developer's morale. When he finally asked his boss about the remark, the vice president was astonished. He meant it as a throwaway line and actually thought the software plan was promising, if in need of a bit more work.
"An artful critique can be one of the most helpful messages a manager can send," writes Goleman.
It focuses on what a person has done and can do better in the future.
"[In] terms of motivation, when people believe that their failures are due to some unchangeable deficit in themselves, they lose hope and stop trying," Goleman says.
"The basic belief that leads to optimism, remember, is that setbacks or failures are due to circumstances that we can do something about to change them for the better."
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