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Air Traffic Controller Explains How He Helped Passenger With 'No Idea' How To Fly Land Plane

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Air Traffic Controller Explains How He Helped Passenger With 'No Idea' How To Fly Land Plane

An air traffic controller who helped a man land a plane with no experience has explained how he did it.

It was just like Snakes on a Plane, only without the snakes. On Tuesday, May 10, Darren Harrison, a man aboard a Cessna Caravan model, was forced to leap into action when the pilot became rather unwell.

As they approached their destination, he was left with only one option: he had to take control of the aircraft, and with a bit of help from air traffic controllers on the ground, he somehow managed to safely touch down at Palm Beach International Airport.

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In a frantic call to air traffic control, Harrison said: "I've got a serious situation here. My pilot has gone incoherent. And I have no idea how to fly the airplane."

The dispatcher replied: "Roger. What’s your position?” to which the passenger replied: “I have no idea. I can see the coast of Florida in front of me. And I have no idea.”

The dispatcher then said: “Maintain wings level and just try to follow the coast, either north or southbound. We’re trying to locate you.” After he managed to land the plane, the dispatcher added: "You just witnessed a couple passengers land that plane."

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Robert Morgan helped the man land the plane. Credit: BBC News
Robert Morgan helped the man land the plane. Credit: BBC News

Robert Morgan was the air traffic controller on the ground. In an interview with BBC News, he said: "When somebody just drops that bomb on you that you're not expecting... it was just like, woah, I felt like I was in a movie."

Morgan said Harrison was calm throughout the whole ordeal, despite the high-stakes situation.

At one point, the plane disappeared off Morgan's radar, which briefly worried him. Thankfully, Harrison responded over the radio to let him know everything was okay.

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Morgan then warned him the runway was going to be quite narrow, and explained how he'd want to transition to landing slowly as it grew wider. "At the end of the day, I just feel like I was doing my job - it was just on a higher level than you ever thought you'd have to do it," he added.

In another interview with WPBF, Morgan said: "[Harrison] told me that he couldn't wait to get home and hug his pregnant wife."

The Federal Aviation Administration has since opened an investigation into the incident. While specific details haven't been revealed, it's believed the plane's pilot suffered a medical emergency.

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Featured Image Credit: Credit: @wpbf_ari/BBC/Twitter

Topics: News, US News

Cameron Frew
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