Passenger with no flying experience lands in Florida after pilot became incapacitated

TAMPA, Florida (WFLA) — With the help of air traffic controllers, an inexperienced passenger successfully landed at Florida’s Palm Beach International Airport after the pilot suffered an apparent medical emergency, according to airport officials and the Federal Aviation Administration.

The plane, a Cessna Caravan, took off from Leonard M. Thompson International Airport in the Bahamas on Tuesday and was over the Florida coast when the pilot developed a medical problem and became incapacitated. The unidentified passenger took the wheel and radioed for help.

“I have a serious situation here. My pilot has become incoherent. I have no idea how to fly the plane,” the unnamed passenger said, according to an audio recording by LiveATC.com.

“Roger. What is your position?” Air traffic control responded.

“I don’t know,” said the passenger. “I can see the Florida coast in front of me. And I have no idea.”

Air traffic controllers told the man to keep the wings straight and continue up the coast until they could find his plane over Boca Raton. They also asked for the passenger’s cell phone number to better communicate while he was at the controls.

Robert Morgan, one of the air traffic controllers, was standing outside the tower reading a book when he was called to assist.

There is a passenger flying a plane who is not a pilot and the pilot is disabled so they said you have to help them land the plane.” Morgan said WPBF.

Although Morgan had never flown a Cessna Caravan, he was able to safely guide the man to the landing by looking at an image of the cockpit.

The plane landed around 12:30 p.m., the FAA confirmed.

“You just saw some passengers land on this plane,” one of the air traffic controllers said over the radio.

“Passengers landed by plane?” asked another.

“That’s right,” the controller replied. “No flight experience.”

“Oh my god. Well done.”

After landing, the pilot was transported to a local hospital by the Palm Beach County Fire Rescue. Morgan said he met the passenger on the tarmac.

“It felt really good to be able to help someone and he told me he couldn’t wait to come home and hug his pregnant wife,” Morgan told WPBF.

Palm Beach International Airport officials also praised the pilot and air traffic controllers.

“We are incredibly proud of the heroism of all parties involved in yesterday’s incident that ended at the PBI,” said Lacy Larson, a spokeswoman for the airport, in a statement shared with Nexstar. “We are grateful for the result and wish everyone the best.”

https://fox5sandiego.com/news/national-news/passenger-with-no-flying-experience-lands-plane-in-florida-after-pilot-becomes-incapacitated/ Passenger with no flying experience lands in Florida after pilot became incapacitated

Sarah Y. Kim

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