According to WPBF-TV, the astounding flying feat was accomplished with the help of air traffic controllers at Palm Beach International Airport.
“I’ve got a serious situation here,” the Cessna Caravan passenger was reportedly heard telling air traffic control about 70 miles north of his final destination. “My pilot has gone incoherent. I have no idea how to fly the airplane.”
“Roger. What’s your position?” a dispatcher responded, according to the outlet.
“I have no idea,” the passenger reportedly said. “I can see the coast of Florida in front of me. And I have no idea.”
“Maintain wings level and just try to follow the coast, either north or southbound. We’re trying to locate you.”
Controllers assisted the plane’s descent and eventually discovered it at Boca Raton, some 25 miles north of Palm Beach. According to the station, air traffic control guided the man down to the ground in what was deemed a safe and steady landing.
“You just witnessed a couple of passengers land that plane,” a controller reportedly said over the radio when the nail-biting saga came to an end.
“Did you say the passengers landed the plane?” another person was heard asking.
“That’s correct,” the controlled replied.
“Oh, my gosh. Great job,” said the other person.
According to one aviation expert, the dispatcher’s modest compliments for the virgin pilot was a big understatement.
“This is the first time I’ve ever heard of one of these [Cessna Caravans] being landed by somebody that has no aeronautical experience,” said aviation expert John Nance.
According to Cessna, the 38-foot-long jet reaches speeds of 215 miles per hour, seats up to 14 people, and has a 52-foot wingspan.
“The person on the airplane who had no aeronautical experience listened very carefully and obviously followed instructions with great calm,” Nance reportedly said. “That’s what made the difference.”
The courageous passenger’s name was not disclosed, nor was the ailing pilot’s health.
As part of its investigation, the Federal Aviation Administration stated it thought he had a medical emergency.