A passenger with no apparent flying experience managed to land a small plane in Florida on Tuesday after their pilot became “incoherent” following a medical emergency.
The single-engine Cessna 208 landed successfully at the Palm Beach International Airport around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, NBC affiliate WPTV of West Palm Beach reported.
The flight had departed from Marsh Harbour, Bahamas, about an hour and a half before the miracle landing, according to FlightAware data.
In live audio from a call made to air traffic control at Fort Pierce tower, the unidentified passenger can be heard warning: “I’ve got a serious situation here.”
“My pilot has gone incoherent. I have no idea how to fly the airplane,” they say.
“Roger. What’s your position?” a dispatcher responds.
“I have no idea,” the passenger says. “I can see the coast of Florida in front of me. And I have no idea.”
The dispatcher can be heard telling the passenger to “maintain wings level” and to “just try to follow the coast, either north or southbound” as crews tried to locate the plane.
Ultimately, the controller was able to walk the passenger through the steps to land the plane.
“Man, they did a great job,” someone can be heard saying in a separate call log from the air traffic control station.
“Did you say the passengers landed the plane?” another person asks. “Oh my God. Great job.”
The first person can be heard saying that the passenger had “no flying experience” before landing the plane. They said a controller who was also a flying instructor had helped them land the aircraft.
Palm Beach County Fire Rescue said the aircraft landed “safely” and one patient was transported to a local hospital. Officials did not release the names of those on board.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office incident report shows law enforcement was alerted that the pilot was “unconscious” and the passenger was flying the plane with “three souls on board” at 12:27 p.m. local time, when the flight was eight miles southwest of the airport. The report shows the plane landed safely about 10 minutes later at 12:38 p.m.
The plane is registered to Beach Amphibian LLC based in Connecticut, Federal Aviation Administration data shows. It’s not clear who the current operator of the plane is.
The FAA is investigating the incident.