Passenger With “No Flying Experience” Lands Plane After Pilot Loses Consciousness


A flight from the Bahamas to Florida in America took a dangerous turn when the pilot told two passengers that he wasn’t feeling well.

“I have no idea how to fly the airplane.”

As per the reports from BBC, in a audio recording from the flight, the passenger named Darren Harrison, can be heard telling air traffic control a “serious situation” was unfolding.

An air traffic controller who also teaches new pilots helped guide the man down to Palm Beach International Airport just after noon on Tuesday, 10 May 2022.

The pilot of the Cessna 208 had been flying to Florida from the Bahamas when he told his two passengers he wasn’t feeling well, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The pilot fell against the controls, putting the small aircraft into a nosedive and a sharp turn. The nature of the medical emergency has not been revealed, but the pilot is being treated in hospital.

An on-board conversation between Mr Harrison and air traffic control :

HARRISON: “I’ve got a serious situation here. My pilot has gone incoherent. I have no idea how to fly the aeroplane.”

CONTROL: “ATC: 333 Lima Delta, Roger, what’s your position?”

HARRISON: “I have no idea. I can see the coast of Florida in front of me but I have no idea.”

CONTROL: “Maintain wings level and just try to follow the coast, either northbound or southbound. We’re trying to locate you.”

Robert Morgan, an air traffic controller at Palm Beach International Airport, was on his break when a colleague came to alert him to the situation, BBC reported.

A long-time flight instructor with more than 20 years’ experience in air traffic control, Mr Morgan had never flown the specific model a single engine Cessna 208 – but was able to use a map of the aircraft’s cockpit to give instructions to the flier.

“I knew the plane was flying like any other plane. I just knew I had to keep him calm, point him to the runway and tell him how to reduce the power so he could descend to land,” Mr Morgan told WPBF-TV.

“I rush over there and I walk in and the room is really busy … and they’re like, ‘Hey, this pilot’s incapacitated. The passengers are flying the plane. They have no flying experience,” Morgan told CNN’s “New Day” on Wednesday.

“I said, ‘Oh boy”.

Morgan learned the passenger on the line had never flown a plane but had been around aviation and seen other pilots fly.

“He was really calm,” Morgan said.

“He said, ‘I don’t know how to fly. I don’t know how to stop this thing if I do get on the runway.'”

Morgan had never flown this model Cessna. He pulled up a picture of the instrument panel’s layout and started guiding his new student step-by-step.

He told the FAA the surreal experience was “like a movie”.

The landing rated 10-out-of-10, in Morgan’s view.

“I felt like I was going to cry then, because I had so much adrenaline built up,” Morgan said.

“I was really happy that it worked out and that nobody got hurt.

“Other pilots were stunned, as another air traffic controller relayed across the airwaves what had just unfolded, other audio captured by indicates.

“You just witnessed a couple of passengers land that plane,” the tower operator can be heard telling an American Airlines pilot waiting to take off for Charlotte, North Carolina.

“Did you say the passengers landed the airplane?” the American Airlines pilot asked.

“Oh, my God. Great job,” he said.

The condition of the original Cessna pilot, who had a “possible medical issue,” was not immediately known, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement.

After the Cessna’s landing, Morgan met his new student, who gave him a big hug and said thank you.

“It was an emotional moment. He said that he just wanted to get home to his pregnant wife,” Morgan said.

“And that felt even better.”

“In my eyes, he was the hero,” Morgan said. “I was just doing my job.”

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