'I would say that would be the pilot's worst nightmare'

VANCOUVER, Wash. -- Terry Wolf knows his way around the tarmac.

He's racked up thousands of hours at the controls of navy fighter jets over Vietnam before he started flying commercial jetliners for Delta Airlines.

His last assignment before he hung up his wings had him flying the exact same plane, the Boeing 777, over the exact same route as Malaysian Airlines Flight 17. Wolf says the thought of a missile strike never crossed his mind.

"Never. Never. It is so out of the realm at that altitude especially. If you fly into a dangerous place you might think of a shoulder launched missile at low altitude. It's a heat seeker it's going to hit the engine, it might damage the wing a little bit but you have a good chance of putting the thing on the ground. But a surface to air missile at altitude, you have no chance to save the airplane," Wolf said.

Wolf says pilots are trained to react to nearly every emergency scenario, but there's simply nothing you can do to avoid a missile with little to no warning.

"I would say that would be the pilot's worst nightmare. In fact it's beyond worst nightmare because you don't even conceive of something like that happening in a commercial aircraft," Wolf said.

Now he hopes this latest tragedy won't cripple the industry he devoted his career to.