An air traffic controller who helped an inexperienced passenger land a plane in Florida when the pilot suddenly fell ill said the moment “felt like being in a movie”.
The passenger radioed an urgent call for help off the Atlantic coast of Florida on Tuesday and was able to land the plane safely with the help of Robert Morgan after the pilot became “incoherent” following a medical emergency.
The air traffic controller, who has 20 years of experience, said in a video released by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that he was just doing his job, but at a higher level than he thought he had to.
Mr Morgan said: “We’ve never had anything like it.
“I felt like I was in a movie.”
The plane was occupied by the pilot and two passengers, according to an FAA press release, officials did not identify either of them.
According to Flight Aware, the plane took off from Marsh Harbor International Airport in the Bahamas.
Rescuers helped the original pilot, officials added. None of the passengers were injured and officials did not immediately say what caused the pilot’s illness.
In live audio of a call to air traffic control at Fort Pierce Tower, the man who landed the plane said, “I have a serious situation here.”
“My pilot has become inconsistent. I have no idea how to fly the plane, but I’m holding at 9100,” the man said.
A Fort Pierce air traffic controller responded, asking if he knew the position of the single-engine Cessna 208.
The dispatcher told the passenger to “keep the wings level” and “try to just follow the coast, either north or south” as they worked to locate the aircraft.
Twin controls allow a Cessna 208 to be steered from the passenger seat.
A few minutes passed before controllers could locate the plane, which was then heading north over Boca Raton.
Then the man’s voice seemed to fade, so the Fort Pierce controller asked for the passenger’s cell phone number to allow controllers at Palm Beach International Airport to communicate with him more clearly.
Mr Morgan took over at this point, guiding the passenger to a safe landing.
Mr. Morgan is a certified flight instructor with experience flying Cessna aircraft, the FAA said.
“Congratulations to the new pilot,” a controller told him after the plane rolled smoothly over the tarmac.
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