Last Update: May 14, 2022 at 12:58 pm
DATE: MAY 12/22
SOURCE: National Post
Passenger with no flying experience lands Cessna after pilot became ‘incoherent’
On Tuesday afternoon, a passenger aboard a private flight headed from the Bahamas to Florida successfully landed an airplane after the pilot had become incapacitated.
“I’ve got a serious situation here,” one of the two passengers radioed air traffic controllers mid-flight. “My pilot has gone incoherent. I have no idea how to fly the airplane.”
Certified flight instructor Robert Morgan, the Air Traffic Controller on duty throughout the ordeal, was on a break when the call came in from the plane.
“I rush over there and I walk in and the room is really busy… and they’re like, ‘Hey, this pilot’s incapacitated’,” Morgan told CNN on Wednesday. “The passengers are flying the plane. They have no flying experience.”
Morgan was made aware that the passengers had zero prior knowledge in flying 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 too had a limited understanding of this specific model aircraft. He pulled up a photo of the single-engine Cessna 208 Caravan’s instrument panel layout and guided the passenger-pilot through meticulous instructions.
“Try to hold the wings level and see if you can start descending for me. Push forward on the controls and descend at a very slow rate,” the air traffic controller can be heard telling the fledgling pilot in LiveATC audio.
“Try to follow the coast either north or southbound. We’re trying to locate you.”
Once located, Morgan instructed the passenger to guide the aircraft to the area’s biggest airport, Palm Beach International Airport in Florida, “just so he could just have a really big target to aim at.”
In footage obtained by CNN, the Cessna is seen touching down on the runway.
“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.”
News had spread across the airwaves making other pilots stunned at the events that had unfolded, audio captured by LiveATC.net showed.
“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.
Upon landing, the condition of the incapacitated pilot was not yet known, though suffered a “possible medical issue,” the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement.
“It was an emotional moment,” Morgan said of meeting the passenger after landing the aircraft. “ He said that he just wanted to get home to his pregnant wife, and that felt even better.”
“In my eyes, he was the hero,” Morgan said. “I was just doing my job.”