Flying blind’: Passenger lands plane after pilot collapses at controls

Passenger lands plane safely after pilot dies at wheel 0:20

Flying instructors in Britain told a passenger over the radio how to land a plane after the pilot of a small aircraft collapsed and died at the controls.

Rory Murray, one of two instructors who guided the four-seater Cessna 172 onto the ground on Tuesday, told the BBC that the passenger had done a “remarkable job.”

"It's a fantastic feeling, knowing I have achieved something and probably saved somebody's life," Mr Murray said. "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."

The passenger is thought to have had some previous flying experience, but he had never landed an aircraft before the incident on Tuesday evening, according to reports. The pilot was pronounced dead late Tuesday, a police spokeswoman confirmed to NBC News.

Both people on board the plane were “middle aged,” an airport spokesperson told ITV News. Neither person has been named.

Emergency crews were called to Humberside Airport, near the city of Hull in northeast England, after a distress call came from the two-person aircraft to say the pilot had collapsed.

Murray, who works as a flying instructor at the airport, said he had to keep the passenger calm as he talked him through how to land the plane.

The passenger took four passes of the runway, and there were cheers from the control tower when it finally came to a halt on the ground. Witnesses told the BBC the plane landed at 7.50 p.m. local time (2.50 p.m. ET).

The plane, which a novice passenger landed with help from the control tower, sitting on the runway at Humberside Airport late Tuesday. Don Davis / Caters News Agency

"He made quite a good landing, actually," Murray said. “He didn't know the layout of the airplane. He didn't have lights on so he was absolutely flying blind as well.”

The plane had taken off from a small airfield just 25 miles away from Humberside Airport and was heading back there when the distress call was made, police said.

Humberside Airport was closed during the operation. However it is not one of the U.K.’s bigger airports and only two flights, from Aberdeen, in Scotland, and Amsterdam, were delayed while the small aircraft was cleared from the runway.