Pilot down, passenger takes over with ‘no idea how to fly’

May 11, 2022, 7:53 AM | Updated: May 13, 2022, 5:56 am
In this still image from video by WPTV shows emergency personnel surrounding a Cessna plane at Palm...

In this still image from video by WPTV shows emergency personnel surrounding a Cessna plane at Palm Beach International Airport Tuesday, May 10, 2022, in West Palm Beach, Fla. A passenger with no flying experience was able to land the plane safely with help of air traffic controllers after the pilot was too sick to handle the controls. (WPTV via AP)

(WPTV via AP)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A passenger with no flying experience radioed an urgent plea for help when the pilot of a small plane suddenly fell ill off Florida’s Atlantic coast, and was able to land the plane safely with the help of air traffic controllers.

“I’ve got a serious situation here,” the man said Tuesday afternoon, according to audio on LiveATC.net, a website that broadcasts and archives air traffic controller communications. “My pilot has gone incoherent. I have no idea how to fly the airplane.”

An air traffic controller in Fort Pierce responded, asking if he knew the position of the single-engine Cessna 208.

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

According to Flight Aware, the plane had taken off earlier Tuesday from Marsh Harbour International Airport in the Bahamas. The aircraft was occupied by the pilot and two passengers, according to a Federal Aviation Administration news release. Officials haven’t identified any of them.

As the plane flew over Florida, controller Christopher Flores, speaking very calmly, told the passenger to “maintain wings level and try to follow the coast, either north or southbound.” Twin controls enable a Cessna 208 to be steered from the passenger seat.

Minutes passed before controllers were able to locate the plane, which by then was heading north over Boca Raton.

Then the man’s voice seemed to fade, so the controller in Fort Pierce asked for the passenger’s cellphone number to enable controllers at Palm Beach International Airport to communicate with him more clearly.

Air traffic controller Robert Morgan, a 20-year veteran, took over at that point, talking the passenger down to a safe landing. Morgan is a certified flight instructor with experience piloting Cessna aircraft, the FAA said.

“Kudos to the new pilot,” one controller told him after the plane smoothly wheeled down the tarmac.

Rescue workers assisted the original pilot, officials said. Neither passenger had any injuries. Officials did not immediately say what caused the pilot to fall ill.

Morgan said in a video released by the FAA that he was just doing his job, but at a higher level than he thought he would have to do it.

“We’ve never had anything like that,” Morgan said. “I felt like I was in a movie.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Soldiers stand guard as Hindu devotees begin the Amarnath Yatra annual pilgrimage to to an icy Hima...
Associated Press

India Hindus begin pilgrimage in Kashmir amid heavy security

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Thousands of Hindu devotees began an annual pilgrimage Thursday through mountain passes and meadows to an icy Himalayan cave in Indian-controlled Kashmir amid heavy security in the Muslim-majority region. Officials say pilgrims face heightened threat of attacks from rebels fighting against Indian rule and have for the first time tagged devotees […]
1 day ago
FILE - A man walks near an advertisement of a Kirin brand beer in Tokyo on Aug. 25, 2020.  Kirin Ho...
Associated Press

Japan’s Kirin to sell Myanmar Brewery to sanctioned partner

BANGKOK (AP) — Kirin Holdings will sell its shares in Myanmar Brewery to its joint venture partner Myanma Economic Holdings Plc., the Japanese beverage giant said in a statement Thursday. Kirin said the share buyback agreement with MEHL, a company facing sanctions by the U.S. and other Western governments, took into account its employees and […]
1 day ago
A currency trader walks by the screen showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) at a fo...
Associated Press

Asia stocks mixed after Wall St down, China manufacturing up

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets were mixed Thursday after the U.S. economy contracted and China reported stronger factory activity. Shanghai and Hong Kong gained, while Tokyo and Seoul declined. Oil prices advanced. Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index edged down 0.1% on Wednesday after data showed the U.S. economy shrank in the first quarter […]
1 day ago
New Zealand Police Minister Chris Hipkins during his press conference at Parliament, Wellington, Ne...
Associated Press

New Zealand designates Proud Boys a terrorist organization

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand’s government has declared that American far-right groups the Proud Boys and The Base are terrorist organizations. The two groups join 18 others including Islamic State that have been given an official terrorist designation, making it illegal in New Zealand to fund, recruit or participate in the groups, and […]
1 day ago
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., vice chair of the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 U.S. Cap...
Associated Press

Cheney to debate Wyoming GOP foes after Jan. 6 hearings

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Liz Cheney is returning to Wyoming after a busy week of hearing public testimony before the House Jan. 6 committee to debate Republican primary challengers including Harriet Hageman, her Donald Trump-endorsed opponent. Cheney will likely draw criticism in Thursday’s televised debate for investigating the former president’s effort to overturn the 2020 […]
1 day ago
Follow @ktar923...
Sponsored Content by Arizona Department of Health Services

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.

Sponsored Articles

(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
Christina O’Haver

BE FAST to spot a stroke

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

ADHS mobile program brings COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to Arizonans

The Arizona Department of Health Services and partner agencies are providing even more widespread availability by making COVID-19 vaccines available in neighborhoods through trusted community partners.
Pilot down, passenger takes over with ‘no idea how to fly’