A passenger on a private plane managed to land the aircraft at a Florida airport, despite having no flying experience, after the pilot became incapacitated onboard.
The dramatic situation took place on Tuesday when the passenger was captured on audio telling air traffic control that he has “no idea” how to fly the plane.
“I’ve got a serious situation here,” the unidentified passenger says in the LiveATC.net audio, according to CNN. “My pilot has gone incoherent, and I have no idea how to fly the airplane.”
“Roger. What’s your position?” air traffic control replied.
“Try to hold the wings level and see if you can start descending for me. Push forward on the controls and descend at a very slow rate,” air traffic control added. “Try to follow the coast, either north or southbound. We’re trying to locate you.”
The plane, which was carrying two people in addition to the pilot, was flying at an altitude of 91,00ft near southern Florida and was guided by air traffic controllers in Fort Pierce to follow the coastline to eventually land at Palm Beach International airport.
After the passenger contacted air traffic control, the private plane was located on radar within four minutes.
While the air traffic controllers located the plane, which according to WPBF-TV was a Cessna Caravan, the passenger-turned pilot asked air traffic control how to turn on the plane’s navigation screen.
“Have you guys located me yet?” he asked. “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?”
The plane was eventually flown into Palm Beach International Airport where it landed without issue – much to the surprise of other aircraft and those on the ground.
“You just witnessed a couple passengers land that plane,” the air traffic controller could be heard telling an American Airlines pilot getting ready to fly to Charlotte, North Carolina.
“Did you say the passengers landed the plane?” the pilot asked. “Oh, my God. Great job.”
A video obtained by WPBF and CNN showed the plane landing and emergency responders arriving to help the pilot. No further details were released about those on board.
“This is the first time I’ve ever heard of one of these being landed by somebody that has no aeronautical experience,” an aviation expert John Nance told the Florida news station on Tuesday.
“The person on the airplane who had no aeronautical experience listened very carefully and obviously followed instructions with great calm,” he said. “That’s what made the difference.”
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said in a statement that the pilot suffered a “possible medical issue”. The agency is investigating the incident.