It is possible for a passenger with no flying experience to land an airplane? Even if there is a calm voice on the radio explaining to them how to do so.
That’s what happened recently aboard a small single-engine plane, when the pilot became incapacitated and a passenger took over the controls. “I have no idea how to fly the airplane,” Darren Harrison said as he radioed down to sea level.
Air Traffic Controller Robert Morgan, a qualified flight instructor with over 1,200 hours of flight time, was taking a lunch break at his Fort Pierce control tower when he received a distressing report about a jet that required assistance as it flew in from the Bahamas.
“I rush over there and I walk in and the room is really busy and they’re like, ‘Hey, this pilot’s incapacitated. The passengers are flying the plane. They have no flying experience,” Morgan said.
An audio recording of Morgan and Harrison’s radio conversations was received.
“‘3-Lima-Delta what’s your position?” Morgan asked.
“I have no Idea. I see the coast of Florida in front of me aaaaand, I have no idea,” Harrison replied.
“Try to hold the wings level and see if you can start descending for me. Push forward on the controls and descend at a very slow rate,” Morgan told Harrison to do.
Morgan scheduled airline traffic at Palm Beach, the area’s largest runway, where he knew he could give Harrison the largest target to fire at, in between radio calls with the jet.
The jet landed safely with much of Palm Beach traffic listening while Harrison was talked through step by step.
“You just witnessed a couple of passengers land that plane,” a waiting pilot was informed by a Palm Beach tower controller. “Did you say the passengers landed the airplane? Oh, my God. Great job,” he stated.
Below is the moment the plane touched down…
A passenger with no flying experience just landed a plane in Florida with the help of an Air Traffic Controller after the pilot fell unconscious.
This is the exact moment where he nailed a perfect landing.
— Goodable (@Goodable) May 11, 2022
Following that, Morgan met his new student, to whom he gave a perfect score for landing during an emotional exchange. Morgan described Harrison as the true hero of the day for having the fortitude to step in and take control of the situation. Harrison was simply relieved to be back on the ground and reunited with his expectant wife.