Getting Down Safely: How One Passenger Landed a Plane After the Pilot Suffers Medical Problem

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Currents News Staff

Meet Robert Morgan, a Jupiter Florida resident, dad of three and now a certified hero.

“I just feel like it was probably meant to happen,” he said.

It was around 12:30 on a Tuesday when Robert, an air traffic controller at PBIA, was outside the tower reading a book on a break.

“There’s a passenger flying a plane that’s not a pilot and the pilot is incapacitated so they said you need to help them try and land the plane,” he said.

He was the man for the job. In addition to his 20 years in tower control, he’s also a flight instructor with around 1,200 hours under his belt.

“I knew the plane was flying like any other plane,” Morgan said. “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.”

He had never flown the specific model – a Cessna Grand Caravan – so he used this picture of the cockpit to understand the specifics the novice was working with.

“I said, ‘all right, we are going to get you to a runway, what do you see now,’” Morgan said. “He said he was just passing the shoreline near Boca. Before I knew it, he was like ‘I’m on the ground, how do I turn this thing off?'”

Together Morgan and the passenger had pulled off the impossible. They met on the tarmac and hugged it out.

“It felt really good to help somebody,” Morgan said, “and he told me that he was going to go home tonight to see his pregnant wife.”