After his pilot became ill off the coast of Florida, a passenger with no prior flying experience was able to safely land a plane with the assistance of air traffic controllers.
The man shouted over the radio, “I’ve got a severe dilemma here.”
“My pilot has gotten illogical. I’m not sure how to fly a plane.”
A Fort Pierce air traffic controller responded, asking whether he knew where the single-engine Cessna 280 was.
It was a question that the traveller couldn’t answer.
I’m not sure. “I can see the Florida coast front of me and have no idea,” the passenger explained.
The plane had taken off from Marsh Harbour International Airport in the Bahamas earlier on Tuesday, local time, according to Flight Aware.
The controller directed the passenger to “keep wings level and try to follow the shore, either north or southbound” as the jet went over Florida.
A Cessna 280 may be piloted from the passenger seat thanks to twin controls.
It took several minutes for controllers to find the jet, which was travelling north over Boca Raton at the time.
The man’s voice then faded, so the Fort Pierce controller requested the passenger’s mobile phone number so they could communicate more effectively.
At that point, air traffic controller Robert Morgan, a 20-year veteran, took over and guided the passenger to a safe landing.
After the plane gently wheeled down the tarmac, one controller told him, “Kudos to the new pilot.”
Mr Morgan said he believed he was in the right position at the right moment on local television.
I could tell the plane was flying normally. Mr Morgan explained, “I just had to keep him calm, point him to the runway, and teach him how to lessen the power so he could descend to land.”
“It was great to help someone.”
Rick Breitenfeldt, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, verified that the pilot and passenger were the only two individuals on board.
Mr Breitenfeldt said the agency was looking into it in an email. The pilot’s condition was not immediately known, and authorities did not reveal the identity of the pilot or their passenger.
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