A passenger landed a plane safely for a dying pilot even though he had “never flown an aeoroplane before,” and this had only been his second time as a passenger in a plane. "He didn't know the layout of the aeroplane, he didn't have lights on so he was absolutely flying blind as well,” said one of the two flying instructors who helped the passenger to land the plane safely, according to an Oct. 8, 2013, BBC report.
On Tuesday morning, the four-seater Cessna 172 had taken off with one pilot and one passenger from a small airfield in Doncaster, about 25 miles away from Humberside Airport in England. Around 6:20 p.m., the pilot made a distress call and shortly afterwards collapsed at the controls of the plane -- leaving the fate of the plane and its only passenger to the man who had never flown an airplane before.
Roy Murray, who works at a flying school based at Humberside Airport and who was one of the two flying instructors helping the passenger land the plane safely, commented that “the passenger had no flying experience and did a ‘remarkable job’. … He made quite a good landing, actually.”
Stuart Sykes, who witnessed the passenger land the plane after the pilot had collapsed at the controls, said that the plane landed at about 19:50 local time.
"It came down with a bump, a bump, a bump, hit the front end down, I heard some crashing and it's come to a halt. There were a few sparks and three or four crashes, that must have been the propeller hitting the floor. Then it uprighted again and it came to a stop."
While the passenger landed the plane, the Humberside Airport in North Lincolnshire was put under an emergency status with police, fire, and ambulance crews on stand-by. The roads surrounding the airport were closed, and two incoming flights from Aberdeen and Amsterdam delayed.
In assisting the passenger to land the plane, flight instructor Roy Murray said that the most crucial aspect of helping someone inexperienced land a plane is to keep him calm. “The last thing you want to do is panic, then all sorts of things can happen."
"I think without any sort of talk down he would have just gone into the ground and that would have been the end of it."
As the passenger landed the plane safely on his fourth attempt, cheers came from the airport control room.