Passenger who landed after pilot emergency says he relied on ‘common sense’

The first call Harrison made from the ground was to his wife. (Representative photo)

The passenger who safely landed a single-engine plane in Florida, US, after the pilot became incapacitated says he had no time to panic as he knew it was a “life or death situation”.

Appearing on the Today’s show, Darren Harrison spoke about his experience and explained how he was able to land the plane safely despite his lack of aviation experience. “It was a life or death situation,” he said, adding, “Either you do what you have to do to control the situation or you’re going to die and that’s what I have. fact.”

The 39-year-old was one of two passengers on the plane when the pilot said he was unwell and then passed out. He was returning from a fishing trip to the Bahamas when the pilot told him and the other passenger that he “didn’t feel well”. Mr Harrison said he quickly asked the pilot what to do, at which point he was already unresponsive.

Mr Harrison then realized the plane was nose diving, moving at a ‘very fast speed’ over the ocean. “At that moment, I knew if I didn’t react, we would die,” he said of his immediate instinct. Mr Harrison also added that he reached over the unresponsive pilot and placed his arms above him to grab the controls, slowly starting to “pull back on the stick and turn”.

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But it still wasn’t easy for the 39-year-old, as he told the Today’s show that when he got to the pilot’s seat, he found that the helmet the pilot was using was frayed, so he had to grab the co-pilot’s helmet. Mr Harrison was able to connect with air traffic, who then guided him on how to land safely.

Grabbing the steering wheel and pulling back, he noted that it was “just common sense, I guess, being on airplanes, because I knew if I got on and yank , the aircraft would stall”.

Once they hit the ground, he said he “slowly feathered the brakes” as they descended the track. Mr Harrison said he could not panic as he knew the situation was dire. “The moment I stopped the plane, that’s when it hit me,” he said, adding, “I was pretty calm and collected the whole time because I knew it was a life or death situation.”

Mr Harrison went on to say he knew he had to do something if he wanted to see his wife again, who is seven months pregnant with their first child. He revealed that the first call he made from the ground was to his wife. When asked how he stayed focused during this frightening ordeal, he cited God as his center and strength.

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It should be mentioned, according to BNC News, an incident report from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office says a call came in around 12:27 p.m. (local time) on May 10 for an unconscious pilot with “three souls on board.” About 10 minutes after the call, the plane landed safely. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is investigating the incident.

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