WATCH: A Passenger With No Flying Experience Lands A Plane At Palm Beach Airport After Pilot Becomes Unresponsive

A man and a woman standing in front of an airplane taking off

Gonna need a new pair of underwear after that one.

A passenger with zero flying experience pulled off an incredible emergency landing at Palm Beach International Airport in Florida yesterday afternoon after the pilot suffered an apparent medical emergency during a flight from the Bahamas and became unresponsive.

It started when the unidentified passenger radioed Air Traffic Control in Fort Pierce, Florida to let them know that the pilot had an emergency, telling the controller:

“I’ve got a serious situation here. My pilot has gone incoherent. I have no idea how to fly the airplane but I am…”

The passenger-turned-pilot wasn’t even sure where exactly he was, telling the controller that he was along the coast of Florida but that he couldn’t even get the plane’s navigation system turned on.

Controllers talked the passenger through a descent so that they could try to pick him up on their radar, and the passenger was able to stabilize the Cessna 208 Caravan single-engine aircraft and get it to the nearby airport.

Meanwhile, air traffic controller Robert Morgan was on his break when he got a call to come to the tower to help guide the plane down. Morgan, who has 20 years of experience as an air traffic controller, also happens to be a flight instructor with 1,200 instruction hours under his belt.

But he had never flown this specific model of plane before – so he printed off a picture of the cockpit so that he could tell the passenger how to land the plane.

“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.”

Easy peasy, right?

Well sure enough, Morgan managed to talk the passenger safely through the landing, which was caught on camera:

Morgan and the passenger met on the tarmac for a hug after the harrowing experience, with the passenger saying that he couldn’t wait to get home to hug his pregnant wife.

Now, I’ve taken flying lessons before (although I never ended up finishing to get my pilots license) and I can’t even imagine how hard it would be to safely land a plane with absolutely no experience. Hell, even flying straight and keeping the plane at altitude can be tough. You think you’re flying level and look down at your altimeter and all of a sudden you’ve lost 1,000 ft of altitude.

And landing is obviously the hardest and most dangerous part of flying. You’ve got to get in line with the runway, get your flaps and throttle right while keeping the plane centered and level, not to mention using the rudder to control for the wind. Then you’ve got to set the plane down at the right spot, at the right speed so that you don’t hit too hard and bounce, which can flip the plane…there’s a ton to think about, even for experienced pilots.

So for this guy to safely land the plane (and to have what looks like a pretty smooth landing) is incredible.

There’s no word yet on the pilot’s condition, but hopefully they’re ok so this terrifying story can have an all-around happy ending.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock