After the pilot becomes too ill to fly, a passenger with no flying experience safely lands the plane


Nobody wants to hear that the pilot has no experience when it comes to flying planes. A recent incident occurred when a passenger with no flying experience safely landed a small plane after the pilot’s health deteriorated.

The passenger accepted responsibility

The plane was a Cessna 208. On May 10th, the pilot was flying his passengers from the Bahamas to Florida. When their trusted pilot informed them that he was feeling ill, the two passengers were probably concerned. The plot ended up collapsing against the controls in mid-flight, according to the FAA and the Federal Aviation Administration. This caused the plane to nose dive towards the ground and turn sharply. That’s when Darren Harrison stepped in, taking control of his own life.

He had no choice but to take over the controls, despite the fact that he had never flown a plane before. Darren had to first figure out how to contact air traffic control and alert them to the danger they were in.

“I’ve got a serious situation here,” Darren told air traffic control. “My pilot has become incoherent. I’m not sure how to fly the plane.”

“ATC: 333 Lima Delta, Roger, what’s your position?” said Control.

“I’m not sure. I can see the Florida coast in front of me, but I have no idea.” Darren provided information.

“Keep your wings level and just try to follow the coast, either northbound or southbound,” said the control. “We’re looking for you.”


They were directed to safety by the air traffic controller

Robert Morgan was the air traffic controller who assisted Darren in navigating the situation. He has been a flight instructor for Palm Beach International Airport for the past 20 years. The only problem was that he’d never flown the plane that Darren had commandeered. He eventually took out a map of the plane’s cockpit and used it to guide Darren. Mr. Morgan was interviewed for insight.

“I knew the plane was flying like any other plane. I just knew I had to keep him calm, point him to the runway and tell him how to reduce the power so he could descend to land,” said Morgan.

Morgan was aware about the passenger lack of experience, but he has vast experience guiding planes to the ground. “Try to keep the wings level and see if you can start descending for me,” he told Darren. “Push the controls forward and descend at a slow rate. Attempt to follow the coast north or south. We’re looking for you.”

They took off with the intention of landing in Boca Raton, Florida, but Morgan decided it would be better to direct them to Palm Beach International Airport because the runway was less congested with other planes and was much longer. Morgan instructed Darren on how to begin their descent as they approached their final approach. Morgan advised, “push forward on the controls and descend at a very slow rate.”


The plane landed safely at 16:45, and neither passenger was injured. The pilot is now being treated at a hospital, but the nature of his medical emergency is unknown.

Darren made a spectacular landing

Morgan’s advice assisted Darren in safely landing the plane. Other planes were waiting for takeoff on the tarmac, and when the tower informed them that a passenger had landed that plane, they were blown away. They weren’t the only ones, as Mr. Morgan was shocked by Darren’s calmness and ability to function in such a high-stress situation.

“You just witnessed a couple of passengers land that plane,” the tower operator told an American Airlines pilot waiting for their turn to take off. “Did you say the passengers landed the plane?” the pilot replied. “Oh my goodness. Excellent work.”

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