Passenger with NO experience lands airplane on Florida runway after pilot fell unconscious

Passenger: I’ve got a serious situation here. My pilot has gone incoherent. I have no idea how to fly the airplane but I am…

ATC: What’s your position?

Passenger: I have no idea. I see the coast of Florida in front of me and I have no idea.

ATC: Do you know how to operate the transponder 7700?

Passenger: Stand by, let me see. Repeat that frequency default.

ATC: Disable and put 7700 into your transponder.

Passenger: 7700, yes, yes.

ATC: Can you say again what the situation is?

Passenger: Pilot is incoherent.

ATC: That came in a little broken. What was the situation with the pilot?

Passenger: He is incoherent. He is out.

ATC: Roger. Try to hold the wings level and see if you can start descending for me. Push forward on the controls and descend at a very slow rate.

Passenger: Yea, they are descending right now at 550 feet a minute, passing 86/40.

ATC: Continue the descent and try to level off at 5,000 feet.

Passenger: 10/4 What heading do I need to be at? Give me a… heading because I have no control. (Muffled…)

ATC: Maintain length level and just try to follow the coast either north or southbound. We’re trying to locate you.

Passenger: 10/4. Passing 8600.

ATC: If able, hit the ivent button on the trans monitor.

Passenger: Which one is it?

ATC: On the trans monitor there is a button that says ivent. Hit the ivent button for me.

Passenger: I, the I what?

ATC: Ivent.

Passenger: I’m looking for it; can’t find it.

ATC: If able, I have a frequency for you to put into your radio. It’s 1, 32.15 132 15 – that’s Palm Beach approach. They may have a better idea of where you’re at.

Passenger: (Muffled)

ATC: Did you copy the frequency? 1, 32.15

Passenger: No

ATC: No problem. Just continue to stay wings I will maintain 5,000 and follow the coast and we’re gonna try to find you here on the radar.

Passenger: Okay. 10/4.

Passenger: You guys located me yet? I can’t even get my screen to turn on. It has all the information on it. Any ideas on that? 

ATC: Palm Beach, is… he’s… telling me you’re about 20 miles east of Boca Raton. Just continue northbound over the beach and we’ll try to get you some more further instructions. Continue to maintain 5,000 northbound over the beach. 

Passenger: So, I’ve got the coast in my headlights. I’m at 72/80. Do I need to get lower? 

ATC: You’re at 72/80 for your altitude?

Passenger: Yea, (Muffled) 

ATC: Just continue the slow descent until you get to 5,000 feet and continue northbound over the beach and we’ll get you further instructions and get you toward an airport. 

Passenger: So, northbound over the beach? 

ATC: Do you have a cellphone with you? 

Passenger: Yes, I do. 

ATC: Do you have a cellphone number? Give me the phone number and we’ll try to get you in touch with someone that can help you. 

Passenger: ***-***- 

ATC: Are you still with me? 

Passenger: **** ATC: 

Say it again. 

Passenger: ***-***-**** 

ATC: I hear ***-****. What’s the area code?

Passenger: *** ATC: I heard the number ***-****. What’s the area code for it? 

Passenger: *** 

ATC: You still with me? Fort Pierce Tower. 

Passenger: I’m going off the coast, it looks like a little bit southwest. 

ATC: I’m having trouble hearing you. I heard you said something about southwest. Can you say again your cellphone number? 

Passenger: (Muffled) I have no idea how to stop the airplane. I don’t know how to do anything. 

ATC: Standby I’ve got some emergency situation going on. If you can hear me I have a phone number for you; ***-***-****. ***-***-****. If you receive that, give that phone number a call on your cellphone, if able. 

Passenger: (Muffled)

ATC: Did you hear the transmission? Can you hear me? 

Passenger: Loud and clear? 

ATC: Did you hear the phone number I gave you? It’s ***-***-****. ***-***-****. Sir, if you heard the phone number, if you can give that a call, they can get you in touch with somebody that can help you maneuver that plane. Continue following the coast Can you confirm that you got that phone number? If you can, on your cellphone, give that phone number a call. They’re gonna get you in touch with somebody that can help you maneuver that plane. 

Passenger: Okay 

ATC: While you’re making that call, just remain on the frequency and we’re gonna try and get you some more help. Is the pilot unconscious? 

Passenger: (Muffled) 

ATC: Can you tell me how many personnel are on the plane with you? 

Passenger: I don’t know. (Muffled) 

ATC: Palm Beach approach is gonna talk to you. They’re gonna direct you to the Palm Beach Airport. You should hear them on this frequency momentarily.  

(Other people butt in. Long silence) 

(More traffic from other flights. Long silence)  

ATC: This is Fort Pierce tower – are you on the frequency? 


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