A passenger with no flying experience lands a plane at Palm Beach airport
Air Traffic Controller Robert Morgan, a certified flight instructor, was on a break when the call came in from the plane, headed out from the Bahamas. He rushed over there and when he walked in the room was informed that the pilot was incapacitated and the passengers were flying the plane.
“They have no flying experience,” Morgan told CNN’s “New Day” on Wednesday.
Morgan learned the passenger on the line had never flown a plane but had been around aviation and seen other pilots fly.
“He was really calm,” Morgan said. “He said, ‘I don’t know how to fly. I don’t know how to stop this thing if I do get on the runway.'”
Morgan had never flown this model Cessna. He pulled up a picture of the instrument panel’s layout and starting guiding his new student step-by-step.
“Try to hold the wings level and see if you can start descending for me. Push forward on the controls and descend at a very slow rate,” the air traffic controller can be heard telling the fledgling pilot in LiveATC audio.
“Try to follow the coast either north or southbound. We’re trying to locate you.”
Morgan made the key decision to guide the aircraft to the area’s biggest airport, helping the passenger-turned-pilot position his aircraft 8 miles out from Palm Beach International, “just so he could just have a really big target to aim at.”
Together, they got the Cessna to touch down on the runway. Footage obtained by CNN affiliate WPBF shows something that takes about 20 hours to learn with typical flight instruction.