Florida: After pilot falls ill, 'novice' passenger lands plane safely
A passenger with no flying experience landed a small plane safely in Florida after the pilot fell ill. The passenger managed to land the flight with the help of air traffic controllers (ATC), reports said. The plane, a single-engine Cessna 280, had two passengers and a pilot, identities of whom have not yet been revealed. Neither passenger sustained injuries during the incident.
Passenger contacted ATC for guidance
The passenger contacted the air traffic controller, saying their "pilot has gone incoherent" and they had no idea "how to fly an airplane." Controller Christopher Flores in Fort Pierce asked the passenger if they knew the plane's position. "I have no idea. I can see the coast of Florida in front of me, and I have no idea," the passenger replied.
Air controller guided the passenger through mobile phone
Flores asked the passenger to "maintain wings level and try to follow the coast, either north or southbound." Minutes later, the controllers located the plane, heading north over Boca Raton. When the passenger's voice started to fade, Flores asked for their mobile number for better communication. From that point, veteran controller Robert Morgan took over and guided the passenger to a safe landing.
'Kudos to the new pilot'
"Kudos to the new pilot," one controller commented after the plane landed smoothly. Officials said rescue workers assisted the original pilot after the landing. However, they did not immediately reveal what had caused the pilot to fall ill. Notably, the Cessna 280 has twin controls which is why it can be steered from the passenger seat.
I felt like I was in a movie: ATC Morgan
"I was just doing my job. We have never had anything like that...I felt like I was in a movie," said ATC Morgan, who guided the landing.Share this timeline