US passenger lands plane after pilot loses consciousness

US passenger lands plane after pilot loses consciousness

An unprecedented incident occurred in the United States on Tuesday, May 10. With the help of a dispatcher, a passenger with no flying experience was able to land a Cessna 208 at a Florida airport after the pilot lost consciousness. Read today in USA.ONE magazine:

A passenger made a successful landing without piloting experience

He contacted air traffic controllers after the pilot became ill and «passed out».

In Florida, a man was able to land a plane according to instructions from the ground US passenger lands plane after pilot loses consciousnessUS passenger lands plane after pilot loses consciousnessphoto:

A Cessna 208 light single-engine aircraft lost control while en route from the Bahamas to the United States. The only passenger on board was Darren Harrison (pictured right), who was able to contact air traffic controllers and report a "serious situation". In just 16 seconds, the plane descended from 3,000 to 2,000 meters above the ground after the pilot suddenly lost consciousness.

Certified flight instructor and air traffic controller Robert Morgan (pictured left) was on a break when the Cessna 208 reported wake-up call. He immediately returned to his workplace, where he was informed that the pilot was incompetent and the ship was being piloted by a passenger with no flying experience. Morgan found out that the man on the call had never flown an airplane, but had experience with aviation and had seen other pilots do it.

According to the instructor, Darren was very calm and said that he did not know "how to stop this thing" in case he manages to reach the runway. Air traffic controllers at Fort Pierce asked where he was, to which Harrison replied that he had no idea, but could see the coast of Florida in front of him. Soon they managed to establish the location of the plane, and then an experienced instructor with 20 years of experience, Robert Morgan, who had not previously flown on this Cessna model, took over.

He pulled up an image of the plane's instrument panel and began instructing his student, who was unable to turn on the navigator screen with the necessary information. The Cessna has a dual control system that allows it to be piloted from the passenger seat, so Harrison had a chance to land unharmed. Dispatchers at Palm Beach International Airport also maintained mobile communications with him.

"Try to keep the plane's wings level and head along the coast to the south or north. See if you can start to go down. Push the controls forward and slowly descend" — Robert said to Darren.

Morgan decided to fly the plane to Florida's largest airport so that the passenger would have a «really large area to aim at.» The controller said he needed to keep Harrison calm as he guided him toward the runway and explain how to release the throttle to descend and land. This usually takes 20 hours of training, but Darren only had one attempt and a limited amount of time.

Video footage showed the Cessna 208 making a smooth landing. Before the instructor even realized they had succeeded, Harrison told him that he had landed and asked «how to turn this thing off.» According to Morgan, the landing was a 10 out of 10 success. When the passenger got off the plane, he hugged his teacher tightly and said that he wanted to get home to his pregnant wife as soon as possible.

"I was very glad to see him help. It seemed to me that I was about to cry — I had so much adrenaline accumulated. Thank God, everything worked out and no one was hurt," — Robert Morgan shared his emotions.

The pilot who lost consciousness was hospitalized. It is not yet known why he became ill in the air. The other pilots were shocked to hear what had happened. Over the airwaves, a tower operator could be heard telling an American Airlines pilot waiting to fly to Charlotte that a regular passenger had just landed the plane. He couldn’t believe his ears and asked again, admiring the newly minted “pilot”:

"Oh God! Great job!"

Morgan said meeting Darren was a very emotional moment. The men thanked each other. In Robert's eyes, it was Harrison who became the hero, and he was simply doing his job.

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