A passenger with no flying experience landed a small airplane Tuesday afternoon in Florida after the pilot became incapacitated.
“I’ve got a serious situation here,” the passenger told air traffic control in Fort Pierce. “My pilot has gone incoherent. I have no idea how to fly the airplane.”
The air traffic control operator asked for the private single-engine Cessna Caravan’s position, but the passenger did not know.
“I have no idea,” the passenger said. “I can see the coast of Florida in front of me. And I have no idea.”
“Maintain wings level and just try to follow the coast, either north or southbound,” air traffic control told him. “We’re trying to locate you.”
Once the plane was located, Robert Morgan, an air traffic controller at Palm Beach International Airport in Florida, took over and helped the passenger to a safe landing.
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“You just witnessed a couple of passengers land that plane,” air traffic control told nearby pilots over the radio.
"Did you say the passengers landed the airplane?" the pilot clarified. "Oh my God. Great job.”
Aviation expert John Nance told WPBF that the landing is unprecedented.
“This is the first time I’ve ever heard of one of these being landed by somebody who has no aeronautical experience,” Nance said. “The person on the airplane, who had no aeronautical experience, listened very carefully and obviously followed instruction with great calm. That’s what made the difference.”
Morgan met the passenger on the tarmac. The passenger, whose name has not been released, said he was going home to his pregnant wife.
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The Federal Aviation Administration released a statement saying it was investigating the situation, adding that two people were aboard the plane when the pilot had a “possible medical issue.” The name of the pilot is not yet known.