A passenger with no flying experience in his life radioed an urgent plea after the pilot collapsed off Florida’s Atlantic coast.
The passenger took over from the incapacitated pilot and landed the aircraft safely with the assistance of air traffic controllers, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
“I’ve got a serious situation here,” the man radioed on Tuesday afternoon, Florida time, according to LiveATC.net, a website that records air traffic controller communications.
“My pilot has gone incoherent. I have no idea how to fly the airplane.”
The man received a reply from the air traffic controller in Fort Pierce, asking if he knew the position of the plane.
“I have no idea. I can see the coast of Florida in front of me, and I have no idea,” the passenger said.
The flight had taken off earlier in the day from Marsh Harbour International Airport in the Bahamas, according to Flight Aware.
The plane continued over Florida as the controller very calmly told the passenger to “maintain wings level and try to follow the coast, either north or southbound.”
A single-engine Cessna 280, the plane at hand, is able to be steered from the passenger seat.
A few minutes later the flight controllers could locate the plane, which by this point was heading north over Boca Raton.
However, the air traffic controller was losing contact with the pilot at this point so he called the passenger on his mobile phone so the controllers at Palm Beach International Airport could communicate with him more clearly.
At this point the air traffic controller Robert Morgan, a 20-year veteran, took over and began talking the passenger into a safe landing.
“Kudos to the new pilot,” one controller said after the plane rolled smoothly down the tarmac.
Morgan told the TV station WPBF he felt like he was in the right place at the right time.
“I knew the plane was flying like any other plane. I just had to keep him calm, point him to the runway and just tell him how to reduce the power so he could descend to land. It felt really good to help someone,” Morgan said.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Rick Breitenfeldt said the pilot and the passenger were the only two people on board.
The Herald reported that the agency is investigating.
However, there has not been an update since on the pilot’s condition and authorities have not released either person’s identity.
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