On Tuesday May 10th, a passenger without any experience as a pilot managed to safely land a private aircraft at the Palm Beach International Airport in Florida. The pilot in charge of the Cessna 208 felt unwell and became unable to steer the plane for reasons yet unknown. In the audio released by the Live Air Traffic website and reproduced by CNN it is possible to hear the passenger informing air traffic control of the situation.
I have a serious situation here. My pilot has gone incoherent. I have no idea how to fly a plane.Darren Harrison, passenger
The message was heard by air traffic controller Robert Morgan, a certified flight instructor who gave all the instructions for the passenger to be able to safely make the descent and land the small single-engine Cessna 208 aircraft.
“He was very calm,” the air traffic controller recounts. “He said, ‘I don’t know how to fly, I don’t even know how to stop this thing if I get on the runway,'” Robert Morgan said. Although he was a flight instructor, Morgan had also never flown a Cessna 208 aircraft before. What he did do was research and look closely at a photograph of the instrument panel of that model, and in this way, from a distance, he gave a lesson on everything the passenger should do to keep the aircraft stabilized.
“Try to keep the wings level and see if you can start to descend. Push the controls forward and descend very slowly,” Robert Morgan instructed. “Try to follow along the coast to the north or south. We are trying to locate it,” the air controller added.
According to CNN, other pilots were surprised, as another air traffic controller relayed across the airwaves what had just unfolded. The audio was recorded by LiveATC.net. “Did you say the passengers landed the airplane?” an American Airlines pilot said. “Oh, my God. Great job.”
I felt like I was going to cry, so much adrenaline was built up. I was very happy that everything went well and no one was hurtRobert Morgan, air traffic controller
After locating the aircraft, Morgan gave directions for the passenger-pilot to approach the region’s largest airport, Palm Beach, “just so he could have a really big target to aim at.”
Together, Morgan and the passenger were able to land the airplane on the runway. “The landing was grade 10,” the air traffic controller said. After landing, the passenger said he just wanted to go home to his pregnant wife. 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.