Passenger who helped sick pilot land plane describes scariest moments and thought ‘I can’t die today’

Darren Harrison had no previous flying experience before he landed a small airplane in Florida last week (Picture: NBC)

The passenger with no flying experience who landed an airplane in Florida after the pilot became ‘incoherent’ last week has spoken out about the horrifying ordeal.

Darren Harrison, 39, helped land a single-engine Cessna plane traveling from the Bahamas to Florida when the pilot experienced a medical emergency and passed out.

Harrison recounted the pilot becoming unresponsive after saying he wasn’t feeling well during an interview with the . When Harrison went to the front of the plane to check on him, he was unresponsive and the plane was in a nosedive.

‘At that point I knew that if I didn’t react, that we would die,’ Harrison said. ‘So I reached over his body, because at this point he’s unresponsive, and I grabbed the controls of the airplane and slowly started to pull back on the stick and turn.’

Darren Harrison recounted the horrifying moment he realized the pilot was unable to safely land the private plane (Picture: NBC)

Harrison described that as the ‘scariest part of the whole story.’

‘I also knew at the rate we were going, we were probably going way too fast and it would rip the wings off the airplane,’ he said.

Once he climbed into the seat he put on the headset he was connected with Robert Morgan, an air traffic controller and part-time flight instructor, who guided Harrison through landing the plane safely.

The moment Harrison successfully landed the plane with the help of Morgan was captured on LiveATC audio. Morgan called Harrison his ‘best student ever.’

Harrison described how the magnitude of what he’d accomplished hit him after landing the plane without incident.

‘When I was flying and saw the state of Florida, at that second, I knew, I’m going to land there,’ Harrison said. ‘I don’t know what the outcome is going to be. I don’t know how it’s going to happen. But I’m going to have to land this airplane, because there is no other option.’

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) referred to the incident as a team miracle, and are currently investigating how the situation unfolded.


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