Passenger lands in shower of sparks after pilot collapses
Cheers in control room as passenger with no flying experience is 'talked down' by two instructors
IT'S every nervous passenger's nightmare: your pilot collapses at the controls and it's up to you to land the plane.
But that's precisely what happened to a passenger with "no flying experience" who managed to land a light aircraft at Humberside Airport last night. Following orders from two flight instructors in the airport's control tower, the unnamed passenger managed to land the two-seater "safely", the Daily Express reports.
It is understood that the aircraft, believed to be a Cessna, had taken off from Sandtoft Airfield, about 25 miles from Humberside. At 6.20pm, the pilot made a distress call and shortly afterwards became too sick to fly the plane. Despite being treated on the ground he later died.
The passenger was forced to take over the controls from the stricken pilot. But with no flying experience and no lights to help illuminate the darkening runway, he faced a difficult task.
Roy Murray, one of the instructors asked to talk the plane down, said the passenger did "a remarkable job". After making several passes over the airport he brought the plane down in a shower of sparks.
"He made quite a good landing, actually," Murray told the BBC. "He didn't know the layout of the aeroplane, he didn't have lights on so he was absolutely flying blind as well. "I think he'd flown once before as a passenger but never flown an aeroplane before."
Murray said there were cheers in the airport's control room when the light aircraft touched down.
"It's a fantastic feeling knowing I have achieved something and probably saved somebody's life," he said. "I think without any sort of talk down he would have just gone into the ground and that would have been the end of it."
A witness, Stuart Sykes, told the BBC he saw the aircraft touch down at about 7.50pm. "It came down with a bump, a bump, a bump, hit the front end down, I heard some crashing and it's come to a halt," he said. "There were a few sparks and three or four crashes - that must have been the propeller hitting the floor."
Police were unable to confirm the pilot's cause of death, but are not treating it as suspicious. ·