A man with no flight experience successfully landed a plane at Palm Beach International Airport (PBIA) on Tuesday afternoon after the pilot became “inconsistent” due to what appeared to be a medical issue.
The Federal Aviation Association (FAA) said the stressful situation unfolded aboard a single-engine Cessna 208 around 12:30 p.m., WPTV reported.
“I have a serious situation here. My driver has become inconsistent. I have no idea how to fly the plane,” the passenger told Fort Pierce air traffic control (ATC), according to a transcript of the exchange shared by WPBF.
“I see the Florida coast in front of me and I have no idea,” the passenger said when asked about his location.
ATC at Fort Pierce instructed the passenger to begin a slow descent while keeping the wings level.
The passenger advised ATC at Fort Pierce that he was descending at 500 feet per minute and tower personnel instructed him to stop his descent at 5,000 feet. As ATC attempted to locate the aircraft, the passenger was instructed to follow the coastline either north or south.
Fort Pierce ATC eventually informed the man that PBIA ATC had located him about 20 miles east of Boca Raton. The tower ordered the man to fly 5,000ft heading north along the coast and provided him with a phone number to call so he could get in touch with someone who could help him. to maneuver the plane.
Eventually, Fort Pierce ATC informed the man that he would be on the radio frequency with Palm Beach ATC shortly, and that staff would ask him to land the plane at the airport. West Palm Beach. The radio then went silent.
Robert Morgan, an air traffic controller with PBIA who has two decades of tower experience and 1,200 hours of flight instruction experience, was reading a book on his break when he was alerted to the situation, said reported WPBF. Having never flown the model plane the passenger was flying, Morgan pulled an image from the cockpit to better understand what the man was dealing with.
“I knew the plane was flying like any other plane, I just knew I had to keep it calm, direct it to the runway and tell it how to reduce power so it could descend to land,” said Morgan at WPBF.
Working with the air traffic controller, the passenger successfully landed the Cessna.
“You just saw two passengers land on this plane,” an air traffic controller said over the radio, according to audio from liveatc.net. He added: “They did a great job.” CNN reports the controller made the comment to an American Airlines pilot waiting for takeoff.
“The passengers landed the plane?” asked the pilot. “Oh my God, great job.”
Morgan and the passenger who landed the plane shared a hug after landing, and the passenger informed the air traffic controller that he was going home to be with his pregnant wife, CNN noted.
The FAA said there were only two people on the plane and did not identify the pilot or passenger, nor did it provide an update on the pilot’s condition. noted the WPBF. He reported that the pilot may have suffered from a medical condition, according to CNN.