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Spontaneous Pilot Lands C208 In Florida

Passenger Without Prior Flying Experience Lands Cessna 208 Caravan With ATC Assistance

Yesterday, an individual with allegedly no prior flying experience had a chance to live many a pilot’s dream, by landing a small airplane after the pilot became incapacitated. The Cessna 208 Caravan, a fixed-gear single-engine turbo-prop airplane that can seat as many as nine individuals, was being operated by a single pilot from Marsh Harbor (MHH) in the Bahamas to Ft. Pierce (FPR) Florida when one of the passengers noticed that the pilot was not responsive. It appears the aircraft routinely makes trips between the Bahamas and Florida, but this time, was forced to make an unplanned stop at the Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) in Florida.

The passenger (spontaneous pilot, pictured above right with his ATC instructor), realizing that the pilot was incapacitated, managed to reach air traffic control (ATC) via radio, explaining the situation and declaring they have “no idea how to fly the airplane”. ATC acknowledged the communication then the asked the spontaneous pilot “what’s your location?”.  At the very least, it was known they were off the east coast of Florida, but with a coastline that stretches some 360 miles or more, that was a lot of water-state to cover!

ATC worked as a team in marshaling resources to assure a safe outcome for all involved, beginning with instructing the pilot to “maintain wings level and just try to follow the coast, either north or southbound” while they [ATC] tried to locate the aircraft on radar to better assist with determining best airport with the longest runway possible for an emergency landing, all things considered.

In a public posting the FAA dubbed ‘miracle in the air’, select pictures of the flying passenger with the ATC manager and the instructor who primarily guided the them to safety. The flying passenger at one point mentioned that he was descending at 550 fpm, so in the authors’ opinion even though he may not have flown a ‘real airplane’ he may have had some applicable knowledge, whether from a Flight Simulator or as an avid/informed enthusiast. Either way, it was a happy ending, and a good save by the ATC team.

FMI: https://faa.gov


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