Testimonies

Passenger with no flying experience miraculously lands plane after pilot loses consciousness

A passenger named Darren Harrison, 39, with zero flying experience recently pulled off a miracle landing of a single-engine plane after the pilot passed out. He was on a flight home from a fishing trip in the Bahamas on May 10 when the pilot, 64-year-old Kenneth Allen, lost consciousness.

Allen’s silence prompted Harrison to climb into the cockpit. That’s when he saw that the plane was plummeting toward the water below them. “All I saw when I came up to the front was water out the right window, and I knew it was coming quick. At that point, I knew if I didn’t react, we would die,” the passenger said.

Harrison noted that he grabbed a hold of the controls in order to straighten out the aircraft. “I knew if I went up and yanked that, the aeroplane would stall,” he said. “And I also knew that at the rate we were going, we were going way too fast, and it would probably rip the wings off of the aeroplane.” He added that the moment was “the scariest part of the whole story.”

Harrison also reached out to an air traffic controller, Robert Morgan, in Florida, who would eventually guide him in safely landing the plane at Palm Beach International Airport. Meanwhile, Allen’s friend, also a passenger on the plane, helped Harrison remove the unconscious pilot from his seat.

Once the plane was about 200 feet from the runway, Morgan told Harrison that he needed to slow down the descending aircraft. “At that point, I told the other guy, hey, take the throttle and dump it on the floor. Just dump it on the floor as far as it will go,” Harrison said.

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The heroic passenger managed to land the plane safely and offered up “the biggest prayer I’ve ever said in my life.” In retrospect, Harrison asserted that the “hand of God” was with him.

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