Passenger with no flying experience lands aircraft after pilot incapacitated

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Aided by air traffic control, a passenger with zero flying experience managed to safely land an aircraft after the pilot became incapacitated. 

The nine-seater Cessna 208 Caravan was flying back to Palm Beach airport from the Bahamas when the pilot advised that he was not feeling well. 

According to the FAA, the pilot then fell against the controls, putting the aircraft into a nosedive and sharp turn, the Palm Beach Post reported.

As the aircraft was about 48 kilometers (30 miles) offshore, the lone passenger took control and called into Fort Pierce Air Traffic Control.

Air Traffic Controller Robert Morgan, a certified flight instructor, was on a break when the emergency call came. Morgan soon learned that the passenger on the line, Darren Harrison, had no flying experience, but had seen other pilots fly.

“He was really calm. 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 told CNN.

Morgan made the key decision to guide the aircraft to the area’s biggest airport, helping the unwitting pilot position his aircraft 12.8 kilometers out from Palm Beach International, “just so he could just have a really big target to aim at”.

Harrison, with the help of Morgan, successfully touched down at Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) at around 16:37. 

Video footage of the miraculous and safe, albeit shaky, landing was published on social media. 

The pilot’s condition or the nature of the medical emergency was not immediately released, but Palm Beach Fire Rescue told NBC News that a patient was transported to a hospital after the plane touched down.
author avatar
Jean Carmela Lim
Journalist[br][br]Jean is a member of AeroTime’s editorial team, working as an aviation writer and based in Manila, Philippines. Previously, she worked in operational aviation roles in Manila, Philippines and Seoul, South Korea before moving to Australia to work in corporate and government travel. In 2012, Jean established her own luxury and adventure travel blog, Holy Smithereens. She is also a contributor for World Travel Market London, one of the biggest annual events in the travel sector. She covers trends and issues in hospitality and luxury travel for a B2B market, interviewing key personalities in the industry.
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