Man with no flight experience lands plane after pilot incapacitated

Published: May. 11, 2022 at 2:25 AM CDT
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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (WPBF) - After the pilot suffered a medical emergency, a passenger with no flight experience landed a plane with the help of an air traffic controller, who guided him through the process of safely bringing the plane in.

Robert Morgan, an air traffic controller, was reading a book outside the tower on break around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday at Palm Beach International Airport.

“There’s a passenger flying a plane that’s not a pilot and the pilot is incapacitated, so they said we need to try to help them land the plane,” Morgan said.

Morgan was certainly the man for the job, with 20 years in tower control. He is also a flight instructor with around 1,200 hours under his belt.

“I just feel like it was probably meant to happen,” he said.

Morgan had never flown the specific plane model, a Cessna Grand Caravan, so he used a picture of the cockpit to understand the specifics the passenger was working with.

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

Morgan took over and was able to talk the passenger through a safe landing.

“Before I knew it, he was like, ‘I’m on the ground. How do I turn this thing off?’” he said.

Together, Morgan and the passenger had pulled off the impossible. They met on the tarmac and hugged it out.

“It felt really good to help somebody, and he told me that he was going to go home tonight to see his pregnant wife,” Morgan said.

Officials haven’t released the name of the passenger or the pilot.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident.

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