• "Spreading the ideas of freedom loving people on matters regarding metals, finance, politics, government and many other topics"

How a passenger with no flight experience saved plane from nosedive, landed after pilot passed out

SilverCity

Gold Member
Gold Chaser
Joined
Mar 31, 2010
Messages
3,996
Reaction score
4,209
Location
SW
I've logged a few hours in a Cessna years ago, but I hope I would have remained calm enough to land that plane.

When passenger Darren Harrison heard his pilot say he wasn't feeling well and saw him suddenly slump over the controllers of the single-engine plane, sending it into a nosedive, he sprung into action.

Harrison was one of two passengers in the Cessna 208 plane flying from the Bahamas to Florida when the pilot became incapacitated Tuesday afternoon.

Despite having no flying experience, he climbed over three rows of seats into the cockpit, moved the pilot out of his seat and scrambled to put on a pair of headphones and make contact with air traffic control — all as the plane was heading down.

In audio from a call he made to air traffic control at Fort Pierce tower, he said: “I’ve got a serious situation here. My pilot has gone incoherent. I have no idea how to fly the airplane."

At first Harrison didn’t know where the aircraft he was flying was even located. With help from air traffic controllers he was told to fly ahead and start a gradual descent, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

As he neared Palm Beach, Florida, Robert ‘Bobby’ Morgan, a part-time flight instructor with experience piloting Cessna Aircraft, was called from his break to help out.

To Morgan, the landing was nothing short of a miracle.

“The pilot was slumped over on the controls and then they pushed him back, they get him out of his seat, then they have to get on the controls and pull back the plane so that it would climb up out of the dive it was in,” Morgan said on NBC’s "TODAY."

A small aircraft stands on the runway at Palm Beach International Airport. (TODAY)
© Provided by TODAYA small aircraft stands on the runway at Palm Beach International Airport. (TODAY)
“I just said, ‘You look great, you’re a little fast, what I want you to do is grab the throttle. Just pull that back a little bit cause we need you be slowed down,’” he recalled.

All hands were on deck to help the passenger-pilot land safely.

Departures at the Palm Beach International Airport were halted, emergency responders were dispatched and vehicles and aircraft were moved away from the runway to make space, the FAA said.

"We’ve never had anything like that … I felt like I was in a movie,” Morgan said, according to the FAA news release. “Everybody wanted to participate and came out of the offices to assist in any kind of way."

When the time came for the plane to land at the runway, it briefly disappeared from the radar, Morgan said.

“It must’ve been no more than 10 seconds. And I kept trying to talk to him and he said, 'I'm on the ground, what do you want me to do now?'" Morgan recalled. "My heart just kinda sank just thinking 'Thank God.'"

In audio from a separate call log from the air traffic control station following the landing, someone is heard saying, "Man, they did a great job."

“Did you say the passengers landed the plane?” another person asked. “Oh, my God. Great job.”

Once on the runway, the passenger didn’t know how to stop the plane so controllers instructed him on how to brake and adjust the levers, the FAA said.

Harrison, an executive of an interior design company whose wife is pregnant, pulled off the landing all while in flip-flops after fishing in the Bahamas.

After landing safely, one patient was taken to a local hospital, the Palm Beach County Fire Rescue said. The passengers did not suffer any injuries, the FAA said.

Morgan praised Harrison as “my best student ever.”

 
Last edited:

Unca Walt

Midas Member
Midas Member
Midas Supporter
Joined
Mar 15, 2011
Messages
16,718
Reaction score
34,434
Location
South Floriduh
I LOVE this story!!

One of the saving graces of a Cessna single-engine fixed-landing gear is that with somebody telling you what to do, you really can land them without a shred of knowledge of piloting.

Case in point -- Your flight instructor tells you to crank a largish wheel on the left hand side of the seat (trim) counterclockwise towards the rear. This will put the plane, still flying along, with a nose-up attitude. Then, if you ease off on the throttle, the plane will begin to sink while holding that attitude. Left unattended, and in someplace flat... the fargin plane would actually land itself. But it would ignore trees and the like in doing so -- not good.

But how to steer towards an airplane patch -- that is easy. Push on the left pedal, the plane turns left. No need for "coordinated turns" you can steer it with the pedals alone. Line up on the ginormous runway*** and using your feeties on the pedals, steer the plane to the centerline. The plane will land itself nicely, and you can turn off the engine with the ignition switch. Gawd, I love flying.

***I was coming in for a landing in a Cessna at Daytona Beach Airplane patch, and the tower says to me: "Cessna 51Hotel, try to pedal that thing a little faster, willya? There is a 747 Heavy coming in right behind you. Need you to land long."

The fastest speed I could fly that thing was SLOWER than the behemoth-looming-behind-me's fargin stall speed. "Landing long" means flying flat out for better than half the fargin runway before you slow down and plop your little Cessna puddle jumper on the concrete and get the hell offa the fargin runway at the first possibobble exit ramp.

I betcha I have taught 50 people how to fly (basics in case needed, plus it was always fun for eveybody).️ EVERYBODY that went up with me got to pilot the plane for a while. NOBODY ever didn't love it. I'd be sitting there next to the person with four minutes flight experience... and without exception they'd always be sitting there with an ear-to-ear grin like they'd just gotten a fresh lobotomy. ️ cool:

My Beautiful Witch was flying toward Venice and asked me what would happen if we touched a cloud. I had her bring the plane over until the right wing was in the cloud and the rest of the plane was in sunshine. She got an enormous kick out of that. Clouds are very well defined.
 
Last edited:

newmisty

Transcending the 5 Elements
Site Supporter ++
Mother Lode
Joined
Mar 31, 2010
Messages
42,207
Reaction score
67,330
Location
Qmerica
I LOVE this story!!

One of the saving graces of a Cessna single-engine fixed-landing gear is that with somebody telling you what to do, you really can land them without a shred of knowledge of piloting.

Case in point -- Your flight instructor tells you to crank a largish wheel on the left hand side of the seat (trim) counterclockwise towards the rear. This will put the plane, still flying along, with a nose-up attitude. Then, if you ease off on the throttle, the plane will begin to sink while holding that attitude. Left unattended, and in someplace flat... the fargin plane would actually land itself. But it would ignore trees and the like in doing so -- not good.

But how to steer towards an airplane patch -- that is easy. Push on the left pedal, the plane turns left. No need for "coordinated turns" you can steer it with the pedals alone. Line up on the ginormous runway*** and using your feeties on the pedals, steer the plane to the centerline. The plane will land itself nicely, and you can turn off the engine with the ignition switch. Gawd, I love flying.

***I was coming in for a landing in a Cessna at Daytona Beach Airplane patch, and the tower says to me: "Cessna 51Hotel, try to pedal that thing a little faster, willya? There is a 747 Heavy coming in right behind you. Need you to land long."

The fastest speed I could fly that thing was SLOWER than the behemoth-looming-behind-me's fargin stall speed. "Landing long" means flying flat out for better than half the fargin runway before you slow down and plop your little Cessna puddle jumper on the concrete and get the hell offa the fargin runway at the first possibobble exit ramp.

I betcha I have taught 50 people how to fly (basics in case needed, plus it was always fun for eveybody).️ EVERYBODY that went up with me got to pilot the plane for a while. NOBODY ever didn't love it. I'd be sitting there next to the person with four minutes flight experience... and without exception they'd always be sitting there with an ear-to-ear grin like they'd just gotten a fresh lobotomy. ️ cool:

My Beautiful Witch was flying toward Venice and asked me what would happen if we touched a cloud. I had her bring the plane over until the right wing was in the cloud and the rest of the plane was in sunshine. She got an enormous kick out of that. Clouds are very well defined.
I want a fresh labotomy!
 

Unca Walt

Midas Member
Midas Member
Midas Supporter
Joined
Mar 15, 2011
Messages
16,718
Reaction score
34,434
Location
South Floriduh
There's a downside to Cessna high-wings. Stalling.

When a Cessna Spam Can stalls, it STALLS! The equivalent (as far as your stomach is concerned) is that when a Cessna stalls, the steering wheel comes off in your hands, and the wings are removed by a giant. Oh. And the pedals are no longer connected to the airplane.

You are suddenly sitting in a CHAIR that is falling as fast as a chair would fall from whatever altitude you are at. The plane is NOT flying... it is going down a fargin elevator shaft, and you are in it. Gawd! I hate to do stalls in a Cessna. Worse than any rolly-coaster 'cause there ain't no tracks for the coaster to ride down. It just falls.

Now, sumpin' like a Piper Warrior (low wing) <-- think old prop fighter plane configuration -- thass different: If you try to make your Warrior climb that air-mountain too high, instead of falling out of the sky, the sumbitch just chugs along slowly tilted way out of level. Much nicer.
 

DodgebyDave

Metal Messiah
Midas Member
Joined
Mar 30, 2010
Messages
16,335
Reaction score
23,084

I learned in a Cessna 150 and I don't recall it being that bad....I kind of liked stalls and spins

An ME 109 will spin on a dime and a useful tactic to get away from a p51

Airplanes aren't that hard to fly. add power till you climb or remove power till you crash
 
Last edited: