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Passenger lands plane after pilot dies at controls

Flying instructors in Britain instructed a passenger on how to land a plane after the pilot of the aircraft collapsed.
Posted By CAROLINE LEE, UPI.com   |   Oct. 9, 2013 at 12:08 PM   |   Comments

Oct. 9 (UPI) -- A passenger landed a small plane in Britain after the pilot of the aircraft collapsed and died at the controls.

Flying instructors told a passenger over the radio how to land the four-seater Cessna 172 on Tuesday.

Rory Murray, one of two instructors that guided the passenger on how to land, said the passenger did a "remarkable job." Two middle-aged passengers were on board.

"It's a fantastic feeling, knowing I have achieved something and probably saved somebody's life," Murray said.

"I think without any sort of talk down he would have just gone into the ground and that would have been the end of it."

The passenger, who was only identified as John, is thought to have some previous flying experience, but had never landed a plane before the incident Tuesday evening. Murray had to keep him calm through the process, which was challenging given that Murray was unfamiliar with the controls of the Cessna model.

"The problem was that I've never flown that aeroplane. I have flown a Cessna 172 four-seater before, but like all aeroplanes and cars, switches are in a different position," he said.

Emergency crews were called to Humberside Airport in northeastern England after a distress call came from the two-person aircraft.

The passenger took four passes of the runway before coming to a halt on the ground, to cheers from the control tower.

"And on the fourth one, he managed it and (did) a beautiful landing, in my opinion," Murray said.

“He didn't know the layout of the airplane. He didn't have lights on so he was absolutely flying blind as well.”

The airport was closed during the landing. Since the Humberside Airport is so small, only two flights were delayed while the aircraft was moved from the runway.

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