A passenger who had no training in flying a plane successfully maneuvered and landed a small aircraft in Florida on Tuesday afternoon after the pilot suffered a medical emergency and fell unconscious. The novice passenger contacted the air traffic controller and landed the aircraft with their help, according to a video.
Controllers, reportedly, helped the plane descend safely without anyone getting injured after finally locating it about 25 miles north of Palm Beach in Boca Raton. The chilling video of the landing and the conversation between the unnamed passenger and the air traffic controller has since gone viral on social media.
The incredible incident lasted for a few minutes. The video shows the plane slowly descending till it finally touches the runway. The unidentified passenger, who was traveling home to see his expectant wife, was on his way to Florida in a Cessna 208 Caravan that took off from Leonard M. Thompson International Airport in Marsh Harbor, Bahamas, on Tuesday afternoon.
However, the plane's pilot suddenly fell unconscious due to some illness, when this passenger took control of things to save his own life.
"I've got a serious situation here," the passenger can be heard telling air traffic control about 70 miles north of his final destination, according to the audiotape. "My pilot has gone incoherent. I have no idea how to fly the airplane."
"Roger. What's your position?" a dispatcher asked, according to the 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."
"Maintain wings level and just try to follow the coast, either north or southbound. We're trying to locate you," the dispatcher continued.
The brave passenger didn't lose his nerve and continued to follow the instructions. Despite never having sat behind the controls of an airplane before, he effortlessly brought the Cessna into Palm Peach International Airport.
"You just witnessed a couple of passengers land that plane," a controller reportedly said over the radio when the spine-chilling episode came to an end.
Although the video shows the plane making a smooth descent and then completing the landing, it was a moment of horror for both the pilot as well as the air traffic. "Did you say the passengers landed the plane?" one person is heard asking in the video.
"That's correct," the controlled replied.
"Oh, my gosh. Great job," said the other person.
However, it is not known what exactly happened to the pilot and how he fell unconscious. According to reports, the pilot just collapsed after falling sick midair.
According to an aviation expert talking to CNN, tiny turboprop planes like the Cessna 208 Caravan are not uncommon to fly with only one pilot, especially when the flights are private. An FAA representative said the incident was being investigated and stated the pilot had a "potential medical concern," but did not elaborate on his health.
However, credit also goes to the air traffic controller who located the plane after receiving the emergency call and then instructed the passenger on how to fly it, and then helped him land safely.
The passenger was eventually discovered flying off the coast of Boca Raton, and air traffic control at Palm Beach International Airport was able to calm him down and instruct him on how to land the plane.
According to ABC News, the Palm Beach controller was a certified flying instructor with experience working with Cessna planes.
The controller, Robert Morgan, later confirmed this to local news sites, printing out a cockpit layout and using it to walk the passenger through the stages of flying and landing the plane.