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Passenger With 'No Idea' How To Fly Who Landed Plane Had 'No Time To Panic'

by : Jess Hardiman on :
Passenger With 'No Idea' How To Fly Who Landed Plane Had 'No Time To Panic'
Passenger With 'No Idea' How To Fly Who Landed Plane Had 'No Time To Panic' (NBC/WPBF-TV)

The passenger who managed to land a plane despite having ‘no idea’ how to fly has explained how he simply had ‘no time to panic’ when the pilot passed out. 

Darren Harrison, 39, was flying back from a fishing trip in the Bahamas last week with one other person when their pilot experienced a medical emergency

According to flight data, the Cessna 208 went into a nosedive, dropping more than 3,000ft in just 16 seconds. 

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After the two passengers moved the pilot, Harrison ended up having to take over the controls, with the whole incident captured on LiveATC audio as he spoke to air traffic controllers for help. 

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Harrison, an interior designer, could be heard saying: “I’ve got a serious situation here, my pilot has gone incoherent. I have no idea how to fly the airplane.” 

When asked what his position was, he replied: "I see the coast of Florida in front of me and I have no idea.” 

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In a new interview with NBC’s Today show, Harrison explained how there was simply ‘no time to panic’ as he stepped up to take over. 

Credit: NBC
Credit: NBC

He said: "Somebody asked me the other day what my heart rate was, or what I thought my heart rate was, when all of that was going on, and I said 'Probably in the 90s.’ 

"And they said, 'What about when it was all over?' And I said, ‘It was probably 160.’" 

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Harrison, who is expecting a child with his wife this summer, was talked through the process for landing by air traffic control, and eventually managed to safely bring the single-engine aircraft to the ground at Palm Beach International Airport. 

Credit: WPBF-TV
Credit: WPBF-TV
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He continued: "By the time I stopped the plane, that's when it hit me. I was pretty calm and collected the whole time because I knew it was a life or death situation. Either you do what you have to do to control the situation or you’re gonna die. And that’s what I did." 

Robert Morgan, the controller who helped Harrison, said he was his ‘best student ever’, and was ‘overwhelmed with excitement’ when they managed to land safely. 

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Credit: WPBF-TV
Credit: WPBF-TV

Morgan, who is also a flight instructor, had been on his break when a colleague came to alert him to the situation. While he had never flown the Cessna 208, he was able to use a map of the aircraft's cockpit to tell Harrison what to do.

He told WPBF-TV: "I knew the plane was flying like any other plane. I just knew I had to keep him calm, point him to the runway and tell him how to reduce the power so he could descend to land."

In the audio of the incident, Morgan could also be heard praising Harrison, saying: "Did you say the passengers landed the airplane? Oh, my God. Great job."

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