PELM BEACH, FL, Florida – Florida man with no flight experience a plane landed at South Florida airport last week after the pilot became incapacitated.
Darren Harrison, 39, spoke on the radio on May 10: “I have a serious situation, the pilot is inappropriate and I have no idea how to fly the plane.”
Harrison was one of two passengers on a single-engine Cessna 208 plane that took off earlier that day from Marsh Harbor International Airport in the Bahamas.
Harrison described the tense situation of today’s Savannah Guthrie on Monday.
Harrison was able to land the plane at Palm Beach International under the direction of Robert Morgan, a certified flight instructor and air traffic controller. Several other supervisors also assisted Harrison before he was brought into contact with Morgan.
Controller Christopher “Chip” Flores in the Fort Pierce Tower received the first radio call, The FAA said. Flores, with the help of operations chief Justin Boyle, instructed Harrison to fly straight ahead and begin a gradual descent, which gave controllers time to locally inspect the aircraft.
Joshua Somers, chief operating officer of a control room in Palm Beach, helped track down the plane, which was identified as over the Atlantic Ocean, 20 miles from Boca Raton Airport.
Harrison was eventually contacted by Morgan using major emergency radio stations.
“We’ve never had anything like this … I felt like I was in a movie,” Morgan said. “Everyone wanted to get involved and left the offices to help in any way.”
Harrison successfully landed on the plane just before 12:30 p.m. None of the passengers were injured.
“After all, I feel like I was just doing my job,” Morgan said. “But it was like at a higher level than you thought you would have to do.”
Harrison told Guthrie that the pilot is expected to be released from the hospital on Monday.
Garrison, a passenger who became a pilot, returned home after suffering to his wife, who is seven months pregnant.