Both a passenger and air traffic control did an outstanding job in handling an emergency at 10,000 feet when the passenger took the controls and landed a King Air with help from ATC after the pilot died in mid-flight.
The passenger, who took the controls and was in contact with the control tower in Miami, and subsequently in Fort Myers, has single-engine plane experience, said Bergen. He had been a pilot since at least 1990. However, he was not certified to fly a twin-engine plane like the King Air, which is a large luxury plane, said Wallace. To instruct him on how to maneuver the plane and bring it back to earth, one air traffic controller got on the phone with a friend in Connecticut who is rated to fly the King Air aircraft.
Many air traffic controllers are actually pilots-mighty handy in a situation like this. Some ATC types can be down right cranky but most are there to help. Especially some of us who need a hand from time to time. That’s why they established the Archie League and Controller Commendation awards for folks that help handle life threatening situations, including smoke in the cockpit, low fuel, vacuum pump failures, and icing.
Listen to some of the audio exchanges of the award winners here. If you got an emergency, who else ‘ya gonna call?