Passenger Lands Plane After Pilot is Incapacitated

Cessna 208 Caravan

By Matis Glenn

FLORIDA – A man with no training or experience in flying planes managed to land a small airplane Tuesday, around 12:30PM in West Palm Beach, reports ABC News.

The passenger, whose identity is not known at this time, called air traffic control when the pilot of the single-engine Cessna 208 aircraft was suffering from a medical emergency. “I’ve got a serious situation here.” The man said in the recorded phone call.  “My pilot has gone incoherent. I have no idea how to fly the airplane.”

“What’s your position?” the dispatcher responded.

“I have no idea. I see the coast of Florida in front of me and I have no idea,” the passenger said.

Air Traffic Control used radar to locate the plane; it was flying just off the coast of Boca Raton.

The dispatcher – a flying instructor – gave the passenger detailed instructions on how to use the plane’s controls, telling him to “hold the wings level” and “push forward on the controls and descend at a very slow rate.”

The plane touched down safely in Palm Beach International Airport. Another air traffic controller was heard on the phone saying “Did you say the passengers landed the airplane? Oh, my G-d. Great job.”

“The person on the airplane who had no aeronautical experience listened very carefully and obviously followed instructions with great calm,” aviation expert John Nance told ABC News. “That’s what made the difference.”

One person was taken to the hospital, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office officials said, but their condition and identity were not released.

The FAA incident is under investigation by the FAA.

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