WEST PALM BEACH- Speaking to NBC’s Savannah Guthrie, Lakeland resident Darren Harrison described what happened when the pilot of the plane he was a passenger on became incapacitated and it fell to him to land the Cessna despite having no flying experience.
“I knew if I didn’t react that we would die,” Harrison, 39, said on the TODAY show.
The flooring salesman was flying from the Bahamas to Fort Pierce following a fishing trip on May 10th when the pilot of the single-engine Cessna 208 suffered an aortic aneurysm and fell unconscious.
The plane began to fall from the sky and Harrison had to reach over the pilot and take hold of the control yoke to level it off.
After moving the unconscious pilot and taking his seat, he contacted air traffic control in West Palm Beach and was eventually put in touch with controller and flight instructor Robert Morgan who guided the man with no flying background to a safe landing at PBI.
“In my mind, I knew I wasn’t going to die,” he told Guthrie. “The thought never crossed my mind to tell my wife ‘bye’.”
Harrison’s wife is seven months pregnant with their first child, and both he and Morgan have been hailed as heroes following the ordeal.
Our partners at WPTV say the pilot is currently at St. Mary’s Medical Center in unknown condition.