Passenger Discusses Flying Airplane, With No Experience, After Pilot Fell Unconscious

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Darren Harrison, 39, was put in a life or death situation last week. He had to land a small private plane after the pilot experienced a medical emergency.

The incident occurred at Palm Beach International Airport on May 10.

Harrison was a passenger in a single-engine Cessna 208. He had been traveling from the Bahamas and headed to Fort Pierce when the pilot had an aortic aneurysm.

“He said, I got a headache, and I’m fuzzy. And I just don’t feel right,” Harrison stated in an interview. “And I said, what do we need to do?…At that point, he didn’t respond at all.”

Harrison had never flown a plane before, but as the aircraft was in a nosedive position, he had to do something.

He went over the unresponsive pilot’s body and put his hands on the controls. Harrison then pulled back on the stick to get the plane in the correct position. He said that it was ‘common sense.’

Robert Morgan, a air traffic controller and part-time flight instructor, assisted Harrison with landing the plane.

“He comes on the radio. He says, hey we’re going to have to put the flaps down to help slow you down. He put the flaps down. Immediately, the nose started to come up to a rate that I was comfortable with,” Harrison said.

“And I came over the radio, and I said, is it possible for me to land this airplane with no flaps? And he said, no flaps it is. We’re gonna land it with no flaps.”

A few minutes later, Harrison had landed the plane without incident.

He stated that the thought of dying never entered his mind.

The pilot was transported to a hospital, and his condition was unknown.



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