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04-13-09, 05:32 PM #1
Passenger lands plane in Fla. after pilot dies
A tragedy thankfully didn't turn into a disaster Sunday when a passenger successfully landed a small airplane at Southwest Florida International Airport after the pilot had a seizure 20 minutes after takeoff.
The pilot died before the plane landed.
The Beechcraft King Air two-engine turboprop plane, with five people on board, was flying from Marco Island to Jackson, Miss., when the pilot was stricken for unknown reasons.
Neither the pilot's nor the passenger's names were released by authorities.
Although the passenger who eventually landed the plane was a licensed pilot, he wasn't certified to fly a high-performance turboprop aircraft and had never flown a King Air plane, according to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.
A Fort Myers air traffic controller, whose name also wasn't released, talked the man through the landing by calling a friend in Connecticut who was familiar with King Airs.
"We've had situations where passengers land airplanes before, but this is the first time I actually heard a controller actually tell the passenger to push this button and turn this knob," said Steve Wallace, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers in Miami. "It's a heck of an Easter story."
Wallace was working in the Miami air traffic control center when his air controllers couldn't reach the plane's pilot at 2 p.m. Sunday. The Miami center deals with planes at high altitude — 10,000 or more feet — in South Florida.
"We tried a couple times and didn't hear anything," Wallace said. "Then all of a sudden, we hear a passenger say, 'This is November 55 Niner Delta Whisky and my pilot is passed out. We need help now.'"
Despite dealing with 15 other planes in the air at the time, the Miami air traffic control center helped the man disengage autopilot, turn the plane around and descend to Fort Myers.
Fort Myers air traffic controllers then helped him land the plane thanks to an assist from a Connecticut pilot. The man in Connecticut pulled out a King Air manual and read off a checklist for landing, which the Fort Myers air traffic controller then relayed to the passenger-turned-pilot.
"The passenger was a certified pilot, but not in this plane, so he needed this help," said Alex Caldwell, spokeswoman for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. "It's not the like driving a Ford Focus and an F-150. There's a big difference with planes."
Wallace said the passenger deserves all the credit for the safe landing.
"I was watching him on the radar and he was able to hold the airplane level, make the turn and land on his first shot," Wallace said.
"When he landed, our heroes over here got a nice applause and a pat on the back. It's not often controllers fly plane by proxy."
The plane, which was built in 1982, is owned by White Equipment Leasing in Archibald, La. according to Federal Aviation Administration records. The owner couldn't be reached for comment.
"This could have had a truly horrible outcome," Caldwell said. "It's a real Easter miracle."
By Chris Umpierre, The (Fort Myers, Fla.) News-Press
Passenger lands plane in Fla. after pilot dies - USATODAY.com
04-13-09, 06:52 PM #2
Thats pretty cool. Last week, the the town next to us had a plane do an emergency landing on a city street, no one was hurt, even after it hit a power line on approach. In Venice, which is also close to where I live, a plane crashed into a city street. Fort Myers is close to where I live, so this hit the news big here. We seem to be having alot of problems with private planes the past few months around here.Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you, Jesus Christ and the American G.I.
One died for your soul, the other for your freedom. ~ Anon
si hic carrus commovet non quaerete
RIP Scott L. Roth- Pfc 1st Platoon,401st MP Co, KIA 12/20/89- Operation Just Cause- Not forgotten.
04-13-09, 07:36 PM #3
Rude of the pilot to die on his passenger like that..........SI VIS PACEM PARA BELLUM-Ex-Sheriff Martin Howe to Will Kane in "High Noon"
"It's a great life. You risk your skin catching killers and the juries turn them loose so they can come back and shoot at you again. If your honest , your poor your whole life. And , In the end , you wind up dying all alone on some dirty street. For what? For nothing. For a tin star."
Far from being a handicap to command, compassion is the measure of it. For unless one values the lives of his soldiers and is tormented by their ordeals , he is unfit to command.
-General Omar Bradley, United States Army
04-13-09, 11:12 PM #4
Yet another good reason to stay on the ground.Do not war for peace. If you must war, war for justice. For without justice there is no peace. -me
We are who we choose to be.
R.I.P. Arielle. 08/20/2010-09/16/2012
04-16-09, 10:18 AM #5\\` ` ` ` < ` )___/\
`` ` ` ` (3--(____)
"...but to forget your duck, of course, means you're really screwed." - Gary Larson
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