Palm Beach, FL

Passenger Lands Plane at Florida Airport After Pilot Gets Sick – They Had No Previous Flying Experience!

Toby Hazlewood

They landed safely, helped by air traffic control

A passenger aboard a propeller plane got more than they bargained for on May 10, after their pilot got sick and was incapacitated - they had to land the plane!

The passenger aboard the single engine Cessna 208 had called for help over the radio when it became clear that the pilot on board was unable to control the aircraft. With guidance from air traffic control, they were able to guide the plane safely in to land at Palm Beach International Airport.

A nightmare scenario

It's a truly terrifying prospect that's been portrayed in many movies - a passenger who has never flown before is forced to take control of a plane and land it in the pilot's place. In this case it happened for real. Calling for help over the radio, the passenger made their initial plea:

"I've got a serious situation here. My pilot has gone incoherent, and I have no idea how to fly the airplane."

Air traffic control agents on the ground were able to calm the unnamed person and guide them safely back onto the ground. An FAA investigation will of course follow the incident.

Man lands twin-engine plane after pilot dies

Such incidents are fortunately rare, but they do occur from time-to-time on smaller planes where there is usually only one member of the flight crew on board.

In 2009, a man from Louisiana - Doug White - had to land a twin-engine King Air plane that he'd chartered for him and his family. The pilot tragically died of a heart attack, leaving Mr. White to take control of the aircraft and land at Southwest Florida International Airport.

Fortunately Mr. White had some flight experience but still acted with great courage and skill.

The incident at Palm Beach on May 10 demonstrates that under challenging circumstances, some people simply rise to the occasion and achieve heroic feats. Thank goodness air traffic control were also able to play their part!

Do you think you'd have the courage and resolve to land a plane if you needed to? Have you had any scary experiences on board? Let me know in the comments section below.

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