TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — With the help of air traffic controllers, a passenger with no flying experience made a successful landing at Palm Beach International Airport after the pilot suffered an apparent medical emergency, WPBF-TV in West Palm Beach reported.
According to the report, the Cessna Caravan took off from Leonard M. Thompson International Airport in the Bahamas, and was over the Florida coastline, when the pilot became “incapacitated,” and the unidentified passenger took over the controls and radioed for help.
“I’ve got a serious situation here. My pilot has gone incoherent. I have no idea how to fly the airplane,” the unnamed passenger said.
“Roger. What’s your position?” Air Traffic Control responded.
“I have no idea,” the passenger said. “I can see the coast of Florida in front of me. And I have no idea.”
Robert Morgan, one of the air traffic controllers was outside the tower reading a book when they got the call.
“There’s a passenger flying a plane that’s not a pilot and the pilot is incapacitated so they said you need to help them try and land the plane,” Morgan recalled.
The air traffic controllers told the man to keep the wings level and continue up the coast until they were able to find his plane above Boca Raton.
Although Morgan had never flown a Cessna Caravan, he was able to guide the man to land safely by looking at a picture of the cockpit.
“I knew the plane was flying like any other plane, I just knew I had to keep him calm, point him to the runway and tell him how to reduce the power so he could descend to land,” Morgan said.
“Before I knew it, he said, ‘I’m on the ground, how do I turn this thing off?'”
“You just witnessed a couple passengers land that plane,” one of the controllers reportedly said over the radio.
“Did you say the passengers landed the plane?” another asked.
“That’s correct,” the controlled replied.
“Oh, my gosh. Great job.”
Morgan said he met the passenger on the tarmac and they hugged it out.
“It felt really good to help somebody and he told me that he couldn’t wait to get home and hug his pregnant wife,” Morgan said.