Passenger Gets Emergency Flying Lesson When His Pilot Passes Out at 10,000 Feet

The plane was careening toward the sea without a pilot and air traffic control had one mission: Teach a passenger to land a plane. Darren Harrison (above) was the lone passenger on a 6-seater single-engine Cessna 208 turboprop some 12,000 feet above the Atlantic off the east coast of Florida when 64-year-old veteran pilot Ken Allen slumped back in his seat. The plane began careening toward the sea at a dizzying 340mph. In the co-pilot’s seat was 70-year-old Russ Franck, who was Allen’s friend, but not a pilot. Harrison managed to undo his seat belt and make it into the cockpit, only to be met with wailing emergency alarms going off. Although the 39-year-old had never taken a flying lesson, he had flown on enough small planes to know that he had to pull back on the plane’s yoke to bring the nose up. As the plane fell, both Harrison and Franck struggled to level the plane off, which had dropped nearly 4,000 feet in 30 seconds. Soon, the plane’s nose leveled off and the plane began to climb to 9,000 feet. That’s when Harrison made contact with air traffic control, where Chip Flores managed to give Harrison instructions to get him into the Palm Beach International Airport airspace. Experienced air traffic controller and flight instructor Robert Morgan just happened to be on duty and took over the job of talking Harrison out of the sky and onto the runway. Nearly 25 minutes later, the plane bounced onto the runway and came to a stop. The radar room erupted in cheers and Morgan breathed a sigh of relief. An ambulance rushed Allen to nearby Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, where he was diagnosed with an aortic dissections. Doctors operated immediately and Allen made a full recovery.