Aviation > Aviation Accidents/Incidents

passenger with no flight experience landing plane at Palm Beach Int. Airport



A single-engine plane passenger who jumped behind the controls and landed the plane safely at Palm Beach International Airport after the pilot fell unconscious performed an incredible feat, according to a commercial pilot who landed just afterward.

Jet Blue pilot Justin Dalmolin said he had to hold off on landing while flight controllers guided the passenger-flown plane in.The unidentified man took over the controls of a Cessna Caravan after the pilot "became incoherent" on the way back to Florida from the Bahamas Tuesday afternoon.

The man told flight controllers he had no idea how to fly the plane -- tower recordings show he said he couldn't even turn on the navigation screen.Dalmolin said the single engine turbine plane is fairly sophisticated and he can't believe flight controllers were able to talk the passenger through not only recovering from the plane's dive, but stabilizing it and then landing it safely at PBIA.

"The level of difficulty that this person had to deal with in terms of having zero flight time to fly and land a single engine turbine aircraft is absolutely incredible," said Dalmolin.

Dalmolin said one of the flight controllers was a flight instruction and printed out a layout of the cockpit of the plane, and used it to guide the passenger through the steps of flying and landing the plane."The incredible part is not just flying the aircraft but obviously the most difficult thing which is configuring the aircraft for approach and landing. And then landing it, and that to me, for a zero time pilot," said Dalmolin.

"I remember my first days when I first started flight training I was white-knuckled and sweating for my first ten hours of flight training," he added.

Dalmolin said it was lucky it was daylight so the passenger at the wheel could see where he was going because it would have been extremely difficult if it had been at night or foggy.

"You know it's nothing short of a miracle and I’m really glad for them and their families they had such a great outcome," said Dalmolin.

working on the audio now, here's the transcript

Fort Pierce Tower Log
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: I nvent.
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: Jus 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: Standy 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
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: Back and forth with other 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

audio of the transcript is in the audio section.
working on the PBI approach now

I don't want to take anything at all from the incredible achievement of everyone involved, and I have no special knowledge myself. But based on some of the language he used ("passing 8600"), it sounds to me as though the passenger, even if he had no experience as a pilot, probably had a certain amount of aviation knowledge.

Am I wrong?


--- Quote from: listener12345 on May 11, 2022, 03:10:48 PM ---I don't want to take anything at all from the incredible achievement of everyone involved, and I have no special knowledge myself. But based on some of the language he used ("passing 8600"), it sounds to me as though the passenger, even if he had no experience as a pilot, probably had a certain amount of aviation knowledge.

Am I wrong?

--- End quote ---

No, you're right there, but it also doesn't take much to look at the avionics based on sitting next to the pilot who probably told him something basic about the avionics. It's more the pedals that would have been more of the issue. But you can definitely tell by his wordings that he had no experience with ATC or phraseology to use.

Again, not taking anything away from what he did, because at that point lingo doesn't matter.



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