Still of plane being landed by passenger
twitter | @wpbf_ari

Passenger With Zero Experience Has To Land Plane After Pilot's Medical Emergency

If you had to, could you land an airplane with precisely zero flying experience? It's a scenario that has played out in many movies and TV shows, but seldom in real life.

But it did happen recently, as a passenger with no flying experience on a single-engine Cessna 208 was forced into the role of pilot after the actual pilot became incapacitated — and landed the plane flawlessly.

The incident took place in the skies over Florida.

A Cessna 208
Wikimedia Commons | MarcusObal

Robert Morgan, one of the air traffic controllers on duty that day, told WPBF that things went into high alert after his co-worker yelled, "There's a passenger flying a plane that's not a pilot, and the pilot is incapacitated, so they said you need to help them try and land the plane."

"I had to keep him calm, point him to the runway and tell him how to reduce the power so he could descend to land."

Palm Beach International Airport
Wikimedia Commons | Don Ramey Logan

Morgan's years of experience as a pilot and air traffic controller came in handy, as he was able to calmly give the pilot instructions.

The passenger-turned-pilot stayed calm.

A plane instrument panel
Unsplash | Shtefan Lounge

Morgan credited the passenger for having nerves of steel. Although Morgan had never flown a Cessna 208, he was able to give instructions after pulling up a picture of the plane's instrument panel for guidance.

The drama is captured through audio.

Morgan can be heard telling the passenger to keep the wings level and keep his eyes out for landmarks to help keep things properly oriented. Morgan guided the plane to Palm Beach International Airport.

The landing was just about perfect.

Professional pilots might see this landing as sloppy, but for someone who'd never flown a plane before, it's downright impressive. Entering a plane as a passenger and ending the flight as the pilot is something that most people aren't going to anticipate.

After landing, the passenger-turned-pilot hugged the air traffic controller.

An air traffic control tower
Unsplash | Grant Beirute

"It was an emotional moment," Morgan said. "He said that he just wanted to get home to his pregnant wife."

The condition of the pilot who became incapacitated is not known at this time.

It's more common than you might think.

A Cessna 208B
Wikimedia Commons | Bob Adams

Large commercial planes usually have multiple pilots on board. But smaller planes might only have one pilot. When a passenger is forced to take control of the plane, it's known as a talk-down aircraft landing, because it requires air traffic controllers to 'talk down' the inexperienced pilot.

It's doable, but difficult.

An airport
Unsplash | Tomas Williams

It might take a few dozen hours to adequately train a flight student how to land a particular aircraft, but in a talk-down landing, a non-pilot is forced to adapt quickly. With the help of a good instructor, it's possible.

It's an incredible story.

Still of plane being landed by passenger
twitter | @wpbf_ari

If you were pressed into duty and had to fly a plane, how would you do? Would your video game skills take over or would you freeze? Let us know what you think of this story in the comments!

h/t: WPBF