Passenger with No Flying Experience Lands a Plane After the Pilot Became Impaired

The passenger had reportedly spent time around aviation but never learned to fly.

Manu Prats Photography/Shutterstock

I don't typically worry too much about who's flying the plane. I just trust that the pilot actually went to pilot school, but that's apparently not always the case. Or at least, in this emergency situation, it wasn't.

After the pilot of a single-engine Cessna 208 became "incoherent," a passenger aboard had to tap into his aviation expertise, which didn't include any actual flying experience, to land the aircraft Tuesday morning, CNN reports.

Air Traffic Controller Robert Morgan, who is also a certified flight instructor, received the call while on his break and quickly stepped in to assist. 

"I rush over there, and I walk in, and the room is really busy ... and they're like, 'Hey, this pilot's incapacitated. The passengers are flying the plane. They have no flying experience," Morgan told CNN's New Day.

Though Morgan himself had never flown a model Cessna, he pulled up the panel's layout and walked the stand-in pilot through the process as he would a new student. Eventually, the passenger was able to land the plane with Morgan's help.

"I felt like I was going to cry then because I had so much adrenaline built up," he said. "I was really happy that it worked out and that nobody got hurt … in my eyes, he was the hero. I was just doing my job."

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Megan Schaltegger is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist.