A passenger with no piloting experience but apparently with some basic aviation knowledge managed to land a Cessna Caravan plane in Florida on Tuesday, May 10, after its pilot experienced a medical emergency. The following video shows the moment of landing:
Upon receiving the reply “Caravan 333LD, Tower of Fort Pierce”, the passenger continues: “I have a serious situation here about my pilot. He is ‘incoherent’. I have no idea how to fly the plane, but I am keeping 9,100.”
Below the video, there is a continuation of the translation of the communications.
See the sequence of messages below:
Controller: Do you know how to operate the transponder? Can you select 7700?
Passenger: Repeat frequency to select.
Controller: If possible, enter 7700 on your transponder.
Controller: Can you describe the situation again?
Passenger: The pilot is incoherent. (Note: he probably meant the pilot was unconscious or incapacitated)
Controller: The message came in a little misguided. What is the situation with the pilot?
Passenger: He’s incoherent. He’s off.
Controller: Understood. Try to keep your wings level and see if you can start to descend. Push the controls and go down at a pretty smooth rate.
Passenger: Yes, I’m descending right now at 550 feet per minute and passing 8,640.
Controller: Understood. Keep going down and try to level off at 5,000 feet.
Passenger: Which way do you want me to go? Give me another direction, I have control. All my electronics should help me turn.
Controller: Keep your wings level and just try to follow the coast, either north or south. We’re trying to find you.
Passenger: Passing 8,600.
Controller: If possible, press the IDENT button on the transponder.
Passenger: Which one is this?
Controller: On the transponder, there is a button that says IDENT. Hit the IDENT button for me.
Controller: If possible, I have a frequency for you to put on your radio. It’s 132.15. That’s the approach to Palm Beach. They should have a better idea of where you are.
Controller: Did you copy the 132.15 frequency?
Controller: No problem. Just keep going, keep your wings level, keep 5,000 feet and follow the coast, and new ones will try to find you on the radar.
Controller: Palm Beach is telling me that you are about 20 miles east of Boca Raton. Keep flying North over the beach and we’ll try to give you some more instructions. Continue, keep 5,000 feet, heading North over the beach.
Controller: Do you have a cell phone with you?
Passenger: Yes, we do.
Controller: If you can understand me, I have a phone number for you: 305-716-xxxx (number omitted from recording). If you understand this, give me a call on your cell, if possible.
Controller: The approach to Palm Beach will talk to you. They will direct you to the Palm Beach airport. You should hear them on that frequency within moments.
After this message, passenger and air traffic controller communications are no longer recorded.
Then, when the traffic controller at the Palm Beach Tower passes instructions for an American Airlines commercial airliner, he says, “Wait next to runway 10L. It may take a few minutes. You just witnessed some passengers landing that plane.”
The American pilot confirms the instructions, and the controller then adds: “Man, they did a great job!”.
The pilot then replies, “Did you say the passengers landed that plane?” And upon receiving confirmation from the controller, the pilot continues: “Oh my God, that was a great job!”.
The controller still continues: “Without any flight experience. We had a controller who guided them to the landing. I think he’s a flight instructor.” And the pilot concludes: “Epic!”
The single-engine Cessna 208 successfully landed at Palm Beach International Airport around 12:30 pm on Tuesday. There is still no information about the pilot’s condition.