A passenger with no flight experience landed safely in a private plane Tuesday at a Florida airport after the pilot suffered a medical problem, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
The plane, a single-engine Cessna 208, landed around 12:30 p.m. at Palm Beach International Airport, the FAA said. The plane had taken off from Marsh Harbor in the Bahamas an hour and a half earlier, according to Flight Aware, a flight tracking website.
Only three people were on board, the pilot and two passengers, the FAA said. Their names have not been released.
Air traffic control audio captured the minutes before landing, when one of the passengers was forced to take over during the flight.
“I have a serious situation here,” the passenger told a tower controller in Fort Pierce, Fla., according to audio archived on LiveATC.net. “My pilot has become inconsistent and I don’t know how to fly the plane.”
The passenger also said he did not know where the plane was.
“I see the Florida coast in front of me, and I have no idea,” said the passenger, who was also having trouble turning on the navigation system.
During a nearly 10-minute exchange, the air traffic controller guided the passenger, then about 20 miles east of Boca Raton, telling him to keep the wings level, follow the coast and attempt to descend. slowly. Air traffic control at Palm Beach International Airport then took over.
Robert Morgan, the air traffic controller who said he helped the passenger successfully land in Palm Beach, described the experience in an interview with local news station WPBF.
“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 Mr Morgan.
Mr Morgan, an experienced air traffic controller and flight instructor, told WPBF he had never flown a Cessna 208 before. Instead, he relied on cockpit footage he found online.
“Before I knew it, he was like, ‘I’m in the field, how do I turn this thing off? ‘” Mr. Morgan told WPBF. He kissed the passenger after he arrived on the tarmac.
Becoming a private pilot with a single-engine class rating requires at least 40 hours of flight time, including at least 10 hours of solo flight time and multiple takeoffs and landings, in accordance with federal aviation laws.
The owner of the Cessna 208 plane is a Delaware-registered limited liability company, according to records from the FAA, which is investigating. The company could not be reached for comment.
After the emergency landing, a patient was transported to an area hospital, Palm Beach County Fire Department told CBS.
Kitty Bennett contributed to the research.