One of the passengers who managed to successfully land a plane after the pilot became “unconscious” spoke out.
In an interview with Today, Darren Harrison describes how despite having no aviation experience, he was able to land the Cessna 208 safely on May 10.
In an interview, he told ‘Savannah Guthrie,’ “It was a life or death situation. Either you do what you have to do to control the situation, or you’re going to die, and that’s what I did.”
On his way back from a fishing trip in the Bahamas, the 39-year-old was told by the pilot that he “didn’t feel right.”
The pilot had already become unresponsive when Harrison asked him what to do.
On reaching the front of the aircraft, he realized it was going down, moving at an “extremely fast” rate. He also clarified that the pilot never slumped forward onto the controls.
At that point, I knew we would die if I didn’t react,” the passenger said of his immediate instinct.
Harrison said he reached over the pilot’s body and positioned his arms over him to grab the controls, slowly starting to “pull back on the stick and turn.”
Guthrie asked, “How did you know how to do that?”
He said, “Just common sense, I guess, being on airplanes, because I knew if I went up and yanked, the airplane would stall.”
In his view, the first moments before he made contact with ground control were the scariest.
Harrison said he “gently feathered the brakes” once they reached the ground.
“I said the biggest prayer I’ve ever prayed in my life,” Harrison said after throwing the headset on the dash of the plane when the aircraft finally came to a halt.
Harrison said the pilot is now expected to leave the hospital on Monday. The passenger said the pilot was not expected to survive after the incident.
His first call from the ground was to his wife Britney, who is expecting the couple’s first child.
When Harrison’s tower connected him to Palm Beach County’s air traffic controllers, Morgan got in touch with a Cessna pilot who worked at the Palm Beach facility, Robert Morgan.
While the incident made headlines, Morgan revealed it was ultimately business as usual despite the heightened nature of the event.