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Air traffic controller describes 'adrenaline rush' of guiding inexperienced pilot to safe landing

'I was ... almost shocked myself that it worked,' Robert Morgan says
Air traffic controller Robert Morgan, Cessna
Posted at 4:37 PM, May 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-11 16:44:05-04

JUPITER, Fla. — An air traffic controller who helped a man with no flying experience land a plane at Palm Beach International Airport is grabbing headlines across the country.

The air traffic controller, Robert Morgan, was on a break Tuesday when a co-worker's alarm pressed him into service.

"I've got a serious situation here. My pilot has gone incoherent, and I have no idea how to fly the airplane," the passenger said while communicating with air traffic controllers.

As a part-time flight instructor, Morgan steadied himself.

"I took a big deep breath. I sat down at the radar scope, and said, 'I’m talking to this pilot now,'" Morgan told WPTV Wednesday.

'I've got a serious situation here, my pilot has gone incoherent,' passenger said to air traffic controller at PBIA on May 10, 2022
A passenger radioed to air traffic controllers that the pilot was unable to land the plane.

Morgan had not flown the particular Cessna model that the man was aboard but used a picture of the cockpit as an aid.

"I told him to keep aiming at the big pavement and just start reducing your throttle, so that you can start the slow descent in," Morgan said. "I just kept giving him the altitude read-outs."

Emergency crews were ready on the ground when the plane finally touched down.

"I tried to keep him calm. He was a very calm person already, so it worked out great," Morgan said.

It all led to a successful landing.

Passenger lands Cessna at PBIA on May 10, 2022, with help from air traffic controller
A passenger landed a Cessna at Palm Beach International Airport on May 10, 2022, with help from an air traffic controller.

"[It was] kind of an adrenaline rush," Morgan said. "I was like kind of almost shocked myself that it worked."

The pair are getting kudos from other pilots.

"I started feeling tears come to my eyes because I knew he made it, and he was safe, and this was amazing," Morgan said.

There is no word on the status of the pilot, but the two passengers on board were unhurt.

"[I have] never had anything like this happen this crazy. I've heard of it happening in other places, but not to me," Morgan said.