Inexperienced passenger lands plane in Florida after pilot incapacitated

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – With the help of air traffic controllers, a passenger with no flying experience successfully landed at Florida’s Palm Beach International Airport after the pilot suffered an apparent medical emergency, according to airport officials. and the Federal Aviation Administration. .

The plane, a Cessna Caravan, took off Tuesday from Leonard M. Thompson International Airport in the Bahamas and was over the Florida coast when the pilot suffered a medical problem and became incapacitated. The unidentified passenger took over the controls and radioed for help.

“I have a serious situation here. My pilot has become inconsistent. I have no idea how to fly the plane,” said the anonymous passenger, as heard in audio captured by LiveATC.com.

“It is understood. What is your position? Air Traffic Control responded.

“I have no idea,” said the passenger. “I can see the Florida coast in front of me. And I have no idea.

Air traffic controllers told the man to keep his wings level and continue down the coast until they could find his plane over Boca Raton. They also asked for the passenger’s cell phone, to better communicate while he was at the controls.

Robert Morgan, one of the air traffic controllers, was outside the tower reading a book when he was called to help.

“There is a passenger flying on a plane who is not a pilot and the pilot is incapacitated so they said you have to help them try to land the plane.” Morgan told WPBF.

Although Morgan had never flown in a Cessna Caravan, he was able to guide the man to a safe landing by looking at a picture of the cockpit.

The aircraft landed at approximately 12:30 p.m., the FAA confirmed.

“You just saw a couple of passengers land that plane,” one of the controllers said over the radio.

“Did the passengers land the plane?” another asked.

“That’s correct,” replied the controller. “No flying experience.”

“Oh my gosh. Great job.”

Upon landing, the pilot was transported to a local hospital by the Palm Beach County Fire Rescue. Morgan said that he met the passenger on the tarmac.

“It felt great to help someone out and he told me he couldn’t wait to get home and hug his pregnant wife,” Morgan told WPBF.

Palm Beach International Airport officials also praised the pilot and controllers.

“We are incredibly proud of the heroism shown by all parties involved in yesterday’s incident that ended at PBI,” Lacy Larson, a spokeswoman for the airport, said in a statement shared with Nexstar. “We are grateful for the result and wish everyone the best.”

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