A passenger with no prior flying experience came to the aid of the pilot after he went unconscious
By: April Carson
"I have no idea how to fly the plane," says passenger Darren Harrison.
The passenger was telling air traffic controllers Tuesday afternoon that the pilot of his single-engine Cessna 208 had "become incoherent," according to LiveATC.net audio.
He stressed that it was a "grave situation," and they needed to act quickly.
Robert Morgan, a licensed flight instructor who was taking a break from his duties as an air traffic controller, answered the phone when Flight 562 departed the Bahamas.
"I rush over there, and the room is packed and people were saying, 'Hey, this pilot's incapacitated. The passengers are flying the plane. They have no flying experience.' Morgan recalled to CNN's "New Day" on Wednesday.
Morgan realized the passenger on the phone had never flown a plane before, but he had been around aviation and seen other pilots fly.
"He was really cool," Morgan added. "He told me, 'I'm not sure how to fly or how to stop this if I get on the runway.'
He had never flown a Cessna like this before. Morgan pulled up a photo of the instrument panel layout on his phone, and started instructing his new student one step at a time.
The air traffic controller advises the beginner pilot in LiveATC audio, "Try to keep the wings level and see if you can begin your fall for me. Push forward on the controls and descend at a very sluggish rate."
"Fly along the coast either north or southbound. We're looking for you in both directions."
"Just so he could have a really big target to aim at," says the report, "Morgan made the key decision to bring the aircraft into range of Palm Beach International's biggest airport, allowing the passenger-turned-pilot to position his plane eight miles out from Palm Beach International."
They successfully maneuvered the Cessna to touch down on the runway, according to footage presented by WPBF, which would take about 20 hours of typical flight training.
In Morgan's view, the landing was rated a perfect 10.
"I was really happy that it ended well and no one got hurt," Morgan recalled. "I felt like I was going to burst into tears because I had so much adrenaline flowing through me at the moment."
The whole scene was shocking to many other pilots, as another air traffic controller passed along what had just happened over the radio, according to LiveATC.net audio recordings.
"You just saw a pair of passengers land that plane," the tower operator tells an American Airlines pilot waiting to depart for Charlotte, North Carolina.
"Did you just say the passengers were able to land that aircraft?" Oh, my God," exclaimed the American Airlines pilot. "Amazing job," he praised.
The condition of the pilot who was flying the Cessna when it came down was not immediately known, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
After the Cessna's touch down, Morgan met his new student, who gave him a warm embrace and said thank you.
"It was an emotional moment. He said he just wanted to get home to his pregnant wife," Morgan recalled. "And it felt even better."
"In my opinion, he was the hero," Morgan added. "I was simply doing what I was supposed to do."
It is not every day that a passenger with no prior flying experience comes to the aid of the pilot after he goes unconscious, but that is exactly what happened.
This article was published on CNN.com.
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April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
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