Passenger lands plane in Florida after pilot unresponsive
A passenger on Tuesday safely landed a private plane on their own, despite having no prior flying experience, after the pilot was unresponsive.
The unidentified passenger took control of the aircraft, a single-engine Cessna 208, after reporting that the pilot fell unconscious, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) confirmed to The Hill.
The passenger called air traffic control for help, telling them that the pilot was “incoherent.”
“I’ve got a serious situation here,” the passenger said, according to reports. “My pilot has gone incoherent, and I have no idea how to fly the airplane.”
When asked about their position, the passenger said they had no idea but could “see the coast of Florida.”
The air traffic control then began to guide the passenger in landing the plane, telling them to keep the wings level and “just try to follow the coast, either north or southbound” while crews attempted to locate the plane.
The passenger eventually managed to safely land the plane at Palm Beach International Airport in Florida, which air traffic control members praised alongside other crew.
“Man, they did a great job,” a tower operator told an American Airlines pilot waiting to take off for Charlotte, N.C., according to CNN.
“Did you say the passengers landed the airplane?” the American Airlines pilot asked, audibly surprised. “Oh, my God. Great job.”
Jet Blue pilot Justin Dalmolin, who landed just after the private plane, said he had to hold off on landing while flight controllers guided the passenger’s landing, according to local ABC affiliate WPBF News.
“The level of difficulty that this person had to deal with in terms of having zero flight time to fly and land a single-engine turbine aircraft is absolutely incredible,” he said.
“The incredible part is not just flying the aircraft but obviously the most difficult thing which is configuring the aircraft for approach and landing,” he added. “And then landing it, and that to me, for a zero-time pilot.”
Two people were on the plane when the pilot had a “possible medical issue,” the FAA said in a statement to The Hill. The pilot’s condition was not immediately known, and the FAA is currently investigating the incident.
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