WEST PALM BEACH, FL – Earlier in May, a passenger aboard a small aircraft reportedly safely landed the plane he was on after the pilot suffered a “medical emergency” that rendered the pilot unconscious. What makes this matter all the more miraculous is that the passenger involved bore zero experience in flying a plane.
On the afternoon of May 10th, Air Traffic Control in Fort Pierce received a disturbing message from the passenger aboard the Cessna 208 Caravan, calmly telling Air Traffic Control, “I’ve got a serious situation here. My pilot has gone incoherent. I have no idea how to fly the airplane.”
This passenger, who has not been publicly identified by officials, was reportedly flying from the Bahamas back to his home in Florida to see his pregnant wife. While still being roughly 70 miles from the destination and with a pilot out of commission, this passenger was well within reason to be alarmed.
Air Traffic Control responded to the passenger, asking him if he was able to identify his specific location. However, all this passenger could detail was what he could plainly see, telling Air Traffic Control, “I have no idea. I can see the coast of Florida in front of me. And I have no idea.”
In response, Air Traffic Control told the passenger to “Maintain wings level and just try to follow the coast, either north or southbound…We’re trying to locate you.”
For approximately four minutes, this passenger was trying to figure out how exactly to fly this plane, telling Air Traffic Control, “Have you guys located me yet? I can’t even get my nav screen to turn on. It has all the information on it. You guys have any ideas on that?”
Air Traffic Control was eventually able to get a lock on the location of the plane, as it was flying off the coast of Boca Raton. Palm Beach International Airport’s Air Traffic Control took over communications from there and was able to guide this passenger through on how to safely land the plane.
Video captured the moments when the plane safely landed on the runway, which was followed by chatter over Palm Beach International Airport’s Air Traffic Control, saying, “You just witnessed a couple of passengers land that plane.” Another voice reportedly came on the radio saying, “Did you say the passengers landed the plane?” to which Palm Beach International Airport’s Air Traffic Control responded, “That’s correct.”
Commenting on the matter, aviation expert John Nance stated, “This is the first time I’ve ever heard of one of these being landed by somebody that has no aeronautical experience.” Nance further added, “The person on the airplane who had no aeronautical experience listened very carefully and obviously followed instructions with great calm. That’s what made the difference.”
The condition of the pilot who suffered the undisclosed medical emergency has not been shared by officials as of this writing.