'Crazy': Passenger with 'no idea how to fly' lands plane safely in Florida after pilot falls sick
A passenger with no prior flying experience successfully landed a small plane after the pilot suffered a medical emergency. The incident happened Tuesday afternoon, May 10 at Palm Beach International Airport, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
After the pilot was incapacitated by a medical emergency, the passenger stepped into the cockpit, took control of the plane, and safely landed it. Before landing the Cessna Caravan airplane, the clever passenger urgently called air traffic control and followed their instructions. “I’ve got a serious situation here,” the passenger is heard informing the air traffic control while they instructed him, WPBF 25 TV News in Florida reported. “My pilot has gone incoherent. I have no idea how to fly the airplane.”
“Roger. What’s your position?” a dispatcher responded, according to the media outlet. “I have no idea,” the passenger reportedly said. “I can see the coast of Florida in front of me. And I have no idea." The dispatcher then said, ”Maintain wings level and just try to follow the coast, either north or southbound. We’re trying to locate you.”
The plane's descent was aided by controllers, and it was finally located in Boca Raton, some 25 miles north of Palm Beach. According to the station, air traffic control escorted the guy down to the ground in a safe and steady landing. “You just witnessed a couple passengers land that plane,” a controller allegedly exclaimed over the radio.
“Did you say the passengers landed the plane?” another individual was heard questioning. “That’s correct,” the controller answered. “Oh, my gosh. Great job,” said the other person.
The video of the incident was posted by WPBF 25 TV on Twitter. Several users appreciated the passenger for his sharp intellect and the controllers for handling the situation nattily.
🛬 "I've got a serious situation here," the passenger said from the cockpit. "My pilot's gone incoherent. I have no idea how to fly the airplane..." Watch the landing at PBIA after the traffic controller then guided the passenger to a safety. https://t.co/gLxS88axix pic.twitter.com/Y2UA6QQC4e— WPBF 25 News (@WPBF25News) May 10, 2022
A user replied, "Great job! You've got a really good head start. Time to start taking lessons now. "
Great job! You've got a really good head start. Time to start taking lessons now. 😂 🛩️— CDC (@CDC39134254) May 10, 2022
Another user wrote, "That was a landing an experienced pilot would be happy with. Good job to the passenger and the controllers who helped him get down safely."
That was a landing an experienced pilot would be happy with. Good job to the passenger and the controllers who helped him get down safely.— Crim (@Crim_Mip) May 11, 2022
"That's some crazy shit, Florida people can't cease to amaze me," a user exclaimed.
That's some crazy shit ,Florida people can't cease to amaze me— ⵣ Lotfi Rifi ⵣ (@LotfiLeRif) May 10, 2022
The dispatcher's modest praises for the first-time pilot, according to one aviation expert, were an understatement. “This is the first time I’ve ever heard of one of these [Cessna Caravans] being landed by somebody that has no aeronautical experience,” said Aviation expert John Nance.
According to Cessna, the 38-foot-long jet can reach speeds of 215 miles per hour, has a 52-foot wingspan, and seats up to 14 passengers. “The person on the airplane who had no aeronautical experience listened very carefully and obviously followed instructions with great calm,” Nance reportedly said. “That’s what made the difference.” The brave passenger's name was kept a secret, as was the health of the ill pilot. The Federal Aviation Administration claimed in their inquiry that he had a medical issue. He was reportedly admitted to the hospital upon safe landing. FAA is still probing the incident.