A passenger with no flying experience landed a small plane with the help of air traffic controllers in Florida after the pilot fell ill.
According to Flight Aware, On Tuesday, the plane took off from Marsh Harbour International Airport in the Bahamas. The aircraft was occupied by the pilot and two passengers.
According to LiveATC.net audio, “I’ve got a serious situation here. My pilot has gone incoherent and I have no idea how to fly the airplane”, the passenger said.
An air traffic controller in Fort Pierce responded, asking if he knew the position of the single-engine Cessna 208.
“I have no idea. I can see the coast of Florida in front of me, and I have no idea,” the passenger replied. “Try to follow the coast either north or southbound,” the controller said. “We’re trying to locate you.”
No injuries reported
Controller Christopher Flores patiently guided the passenger to get out of the tricky situation. He told the passenger to “maintain wings level and try to follow the coast, either north or southbound.” Twin controls enable a Cessna 280 to be steered from the passenger seat.
Minutes passed before controllers were able to locate the plane, which by then was heading north over Boca Raton.
When the man’s voice seemed to fade, the controller in Fort Pierce asked for the passenger’s cellphone number to enable controllers at Palm Beach International Airport to communicate with him more clearly.
An experienced air traffic controller, Robert Morgan, took over at that point, talking the passenger down to a safe landing. “We’ve never had anything like that,” Morgan said. “I felt like I was in a movie.”
There were no injuries reported to any passenger. There is certainly no clarity on what could be the reason for the pilot’s illness.