Passenger takes over, lands plane in South Florida after pilot incapacitated

By Ashley Williams

May 11 (UPI) -- In a story that might sound like it was drummed up by Hollywood, a passenger of a small plane in Florida this week heroically took over the flight -- even though he'd never flown before -- and landed safely after the pilot was incapacitated by a medial emergency.

The mid-flight emergency occurred on Tuesday afternoon when the plane, a single-engine Cessna, was over the West Palm Beach area.


WTVJ-TV reported that all seemed fine with the flight until the male passenger grabbed the radio and told ground controllers that the pilot was having a medical emergency.

"My pilot has gone incoherent," the man said, according to WPBF-TV. "I have no idea how to fly the airplane."

The reports said that there were only two people aboard the Cessna -- the passenger and the pilot.

The reports said that a flight controller talked the passenger through the landing and told him to "follow the coast" to get to Palm Beach International Airport, which is one of three major airports that serve the Miami metro area.

The plane ultimately landed safely at the airport in West Palm Beach, which is located about 70 miles north of downtown Miami.


"Kudos to that new pilot," the controller said after the plane was on the ground, according to WPTV-TV.

Authorities said the certified pilot was taken to a hospital, but the details of the medical emergency weren't immediately clear.

The Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the incident.

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