Can you imagine being on an airplane and suddenly your pilot dies? That’s exactly what happened on Tuesday evening to a passenger aboard a small plane headed to Humberside Airport. John Wildey, the passenger, was left with no choice but to take over the controls and land the plane or face certain death.
The plane took off from Sandtoft Airfield (approximately 25 miles from Humberside). Shortly after takeoff, the pilot became ill. Humberside Airport located near the city of Hull in northeast England, received a distress call from Wildey explaining the dire situation. Rory Murray was one of two flight instructors at the airport. He was given the task of coaching the novice pilot via radio that night. Murray said he had to keep Wildey calm while giving him instructions. As you can imagine, Wildey was scared but managed to keep his composure.
That night John Wildey made four attempts at landing, and at 7:50 p.m. local time, he finally brought the Cessna 172 aircraft to a stop – the control tower cheered. Upon landing, emergency personnel immediately went to his aid.
“It’s a fantastic feeling, knowing I have achieved something and probably saved somebody’s life,” said Murray. “I think without any sort of talk down he would have just gone into the ground and that would have been the end of it.”
“He made quite a good landing, actually,” Murray added. “He didn’t know the layout of the airplane. He didn’t have lights on, so he was absolutely flying blind as well.”
NBC News reported that John Wildey may have had previous flying experience, but never had to land a plane prior to the incident on Tuesday. It was also reported that the pilot was pronounced dead later that evening. The cause of the his death has not been determined yet.
(photo via nbc)