Imagine being a passenger on a plane when all of a sudden the pilot says he doesn’t feel well – and then collapses onto the control board while the plane promptly takes a nosedive.
What sounds like the plot of a movie actually happened in real life and passengers were left with a harrowing reality – they could either go down with the plane – or learn to fly it.
Knowing lives were at stake, one passenger made the decision to act quickly – and just wait until you hear the details of his heroic act.
In addition to the pilot, two other passengers were aboard the small Cessna 208 which can seat up to nine guests.
Upon witnessing the pilot incapacitated, one of the passengers – who had no flying experience – grabbed the controls and promptly radioed air traffic control for help.
The Palm Beach Post reported:
“I’ve got a serious situation here. My pilot has gone incoherent. I have no idea how to fly the airplane but I am maintaining (at) 9,100 (feet),” the passenger told Fort Pierce air traffic control around 11:21 a.m.”
Thankfully, not only did the passenger remain calm, but the air traffic control team pulled a 20-year air traffic control veteran (who was also a flight instructor) away from his lunch to help direct the plane to safety.
After guiding the passenger on how to fly the plane – including turns, breaks, and even landing – the plane touched down on a cleared runway with no one harmed.
Truly a miracle!
Others in the aviation industry were stunned by what just happened – and couldn’t believe a passenger with no flying experience was able to land the Cessna airplane.
The Palm Beach Post reported:
“Dick Erler is the chief flight instructor for Monarch Air, a flight training school based in Addison, Te. His company specializes in Cessna airplanes.
“This is pretty much a miracle,” said Erler, who noted that what happened at Palm Beach Airport has been the topic of discussion throughout the day in the aviation industry. “Both the passenger and the air traffic controller are true heroes.”
What a wild ride!
Sometimes we take flying for granted and assume things will go as planned just like they always do – but this story is a reminder that truly anything can happen.
Cheers to this brave soul for remaining calm in a true crisis and responding quickly to problem solve and land the plane.
And props to the air controller for using his experience to help the passenger land the plane safely in what seemed like an impossible situation.
This story could have had a horribly tragic ending – but once again this situation proves a cool head always prevails.
How would you respond if you were on a plane and your pilot suddenly passed out?
What are your thoughts on how the passenger responded?
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