Passenger With “No Flying Experience” Successfully Lands Florida Plane

in Travel

orlando international airport planes on tarmac at sunset

Credit: Orlando International Airport (MCO)

Of all the wild travel stories out there — from a Walt Disney World Resort Guest being told to “glue” a face mask to her toddler’s face at the height of the pandemic to a group of passengers recently left stranded on the tarmac by their flight crew — one recent story may take the cake.

hawaiian airlines plane in flight sunset
Credit: Hawaiian Airlines

Related: Orlando Airport Reminds Disney Guests of Their “FastPass” System

CNN reported on the situation, which involved a single-engine Cessna 208. The pilot had “gone incoherent” and a passenger took control, telling air traffic controllers he “had no idea how to fly the airplane” and that he was in a “serious situation.”

The news outlet went on to note:

Air Traffic Controller Robert Morgan, a certified flight instructor, was on a break when the call came in from the plane, headed out from the Bahamas.

“I rush over there and I walk in and the room is really busy … and they’re like, ‘Hey, this pilot’s incapacitated. The passengers are flying the plane. They have no flying experience,” Morgan told CNN’s “New Day” on Wednesday.

“I said, ‘Oh boy.'”

Morgan learned the passenger on the line had never flown a plane — but had been around aviation and seen other pilots fly.
“He was really calm,” Morgan said. “He said, ‘I don’t know how to fly. I don’t know how to stop this thing if I do get on the runway.'”

air traffic controller robert morgan (left) and darren harrison (right)
Credit: Robert Morgan

Related: Hundreds of Orlando Flights Canceled, Thousands of Travelers Stranded

Morgan, who had never flown a Cessna 208 himself, pulled up step-by-step instructions for how to land the plane on the internet. He and the passenger, Darren Harrison, managed to safely land the plane, communicating the entire time. Morgan rated the landing a “10-out-of-10.”

CNN shared additional details about the aviation community’s reaction to the incident:

Other pilots were stunned, as another air traffic controller relayed across the airwaves what had just unfolded, other audio captured by LiveATC.net indicates.

“You just witnessed a couple of passengers land that plane,” the tower operator can be heard telling an American Airlines pilot waiting to take off for Charlotte, North Carolina.

“Did you say the passengers landed the airplane?” the American Airlines pilot asked. “Oh, my God. Great job,” he said.

The condition of the original Cessna pilot, who had a “possible medical issue,” was not immediately known, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement.

orlando international airport security reservation lane
Credit: Orlando International Airport (MCO)

Related: Here’s How Long You Can Fly Southwest’s Disney Plane!

As for travelers flying commercial to Central Florida, perhaps to visit Walt Disney World Resort or Universal Studios Orlando, Orlando International Airport (MCO) is currently undergoing a major terminal upgrade.

Last month, Orlando journalist Greg Angel toured Terminal C and shared a photo of the following press release on his official Twitter account:

Orlando International Airport’s South Terminal Complex (STC) creates an unforgettable travel experience. Through a combination of passenger-centered designs and state-of-the-art technology systems and enhancements, the STC is built to improve efficiency, uphold passenger safety, and excite the imagination. The first LEED*v4 airport campus, the complex will make MCO — already a world-class, global gateway to the most-visited destination in the U.S. — also one of the most innovative airports in the nation. The new terminal features dozens of technology systems that both support the building and its functionality, while expediting the passenger process.

Related: Delta Airlines Officially Proposes a NEW No-Fly List For Unruly Passengers

What do you think about Darren Harrison’s heroism?

Let the expert team at Academy Travel help you plan your next magical vacation to Walt Disney World Resort’s four theme parks — Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios — and the Disney Springs shopping and dining district!

View Comment (1)