(WSVN) – A passenger momentarily posted barefoot pictures of him on social media during his flight. He then quickly took control of the plane to land it.
He remained calm and composed the whole time, with some help from an air traffic controller who talked him down.
“My nightmare has always been when I do flights like this, what if something happens to the pilot’s health, what will happen?” said Darren Harrison.
After a fishing trip to the Bahamas, Harrison experienced this terrifying life-and-death situation when the pilot of a single-engine Cessna 208 became ill in mid-flight.
Harrison shared his story with NBC’s The Today Show. The pilot said he wasn’t feeling well and then stopped responding.
“He didn’t respond to us yelling at him,” he said. “We had now gone into a dive very quickly”.
The only other person on board was the pilot’s friend.
Without thinking for a moment, the 39-year-old swapped headsets to speak to Captain Bobby Morgan from air traffic control.
The video showed the trajectory after Harrison took over at 500 feet.
Morgan also happened to be a part-time flight instructor, reassuring Harrison, who has no flying experience.
“I don’t know how to fly, I don’t know how to stop this thing when I’m getting it on the runway, so I said don’t worry, we’re taking it one step at a time,” he told Morgan.
“I grabbed the plane’s controls and slowly began to pull back and turn the stick. Common sense, I guess, being on a plane because I knew that if I went up and yanked the plane would stall, and I also knew that at the speed we were going, we probably were were flying way too fast and it would tear the wings off the plane,” Harrison said.
Harrison landed the plane safely at Palm Beach International Airport.
He said he needs to focus on landing that plane and not on calling his pregnant wife about a possible “I love you.”
“In my head I knew I wasn’t going to die and it never occurred to me to call my wife and say goodbye,” he said.
The plane’s pilot reportedly had an aortic aneurysm that could have killed him, Harrison said.
This pilot could be discharged from the hospital as early as Tuesday afternoon.
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