Hacker News Re-Imagined

Passenger with “no idea how to fly” lands plane after pilot incapacitated

  • 813 points
  • 7 days ago

  • @prostoalex
  • Created a post

Passenger with “no idea how to fly” lands plane after pilot incapacitated


@WalterBright 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

My dad (Air Force) said that sometimes a mechanic would decide he knew how to fly, and would take off in a military plane (this was long ago). They'd fly around a bit, and then realize they have no idea how to land.

They'd get on the radio, and the tower would talk them down. Meet the mechanic on the runway, and escort him off to prison.

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@teeray 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

I hope the passenger at least got a logbook with an entry for his surprise discovery flight

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@robofanatic 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

We need self landing planes

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@theiasson 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙



@BXLE_1-1-BitIs1 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

Looking at the ATC transcript, the passenger couldn't figure out the transponder, change frequencies or give out his cell phone number. At least he was able to get the microphone working.

Likely he eventually picked up the phone number ATC gave him and they took it from there.

The video shows ATC got him to a really long runway, a good portion of which he overflew. No flare on the landing, but the Caravan is a tough bird, the descent rate was gentle and the attitude was just right.

An excellent landing is where you can use the airplane again (without repairs).

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@spacemanmatt 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

Bucket list material, if you ask me, but no one ever does and I can't figure out why!!

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@belter 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

For when the call comes...

"How YOU can land a passenger aircraft! 12 steps"

https://youtu.be/ePDl1JNqjpM

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@causi 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

Sort of begs the question, why don't commercial airliners have remote-fly capabilities? Hook it through a hardware interlock and keep one pilot on call somewhere in the country at all times.

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@bangalore 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

Surely you can't be serious.

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@vhodges 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

Wow... They should make a movie about that.

For you youngins out there... this is a joke, there were several Airport 7X movies (including an episode of The Incredible Hulk (Bill Bixby series) where Banner/The Hulk had to land a plane) in the 70's.

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@erex78 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙



@eklavyaa 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

Hope everyone is safe.On lighter note, This has been my fantasy, to land a plane.

PS: I am not a pilot, but never missed single episode of Discovery "Wings" as a Kid.

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@asdfman123 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

I bet this was a guy raised on video games. I was about to make a joke about it but I'm actually serious.

Once I, a former Houstonian with no experience driving on ice, was driving through the snowy mountains and lost control of my car. Instead of panicking, my video-game-induced laser focus kicked in and I calmly piloted the car until the wheels gained traction and I could park the car on the side of the road.

But learning how to focus in the midst of chaos, instead of panicking, is a technique I specifically had to learn in childhood to beat challenging levels of Super Mario Brothers.

Thanks, video games.

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@irrational 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

Apparently there were 2 passengers. I wonder if one of the passengers video chatted with the air traffic controller so they could see what the person in the pilot’s seat was doing?

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@edf13 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

That auto-play video is annoying!

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@wolf550e 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

Some more discussion of the incident on /r/aviation

https://old.reddit.com/r/aviation/comments/umzwrh/passenger_...

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@banga 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

At first I was impressed. Now I wonder if this was another "influencer" stunt. Sad that such a view even comes to the fore.

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@whimsicalism 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

Listening to the audio of the conversation, it doesn't seem like the passenger has no flying experience...

At minimum they must have spent significant time around aviation or be ex-military.

e: From another comment on Reddit

> Examples: > The passenger knew what button to press on the yoke to transmit to ATC. > The passenger knew aviation phraseology and phonetics “333 Lima Delta”. > The passenger knew where the altimeter was and his altitude “I’m maintaining 9100 feet” > Passenger was able to identify the transponder and enter a squawk code. > Passenger knew what the vertical speed indicator was “I’m descending right now at 550 feet a minute passing 8640 feet”. > My wife, who flies with me regularly, might get one or two of those items, but probably couldn't point out the transponder, much less enter a squawk code without instructions.

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@backtoyoujim 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

The passenger was given the "first lesson is free" discount.

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@kmstout 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

"When did you learn how to fly?"

"I didn't, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night."

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@AiFoGhost 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

Absolutely incredible. What a nightmare. But also, haven't we all daydreamed of handling a moment like this gracefully?

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@orbital-decay 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

>air traffic controllers were able to locate the plane on radar and walk the passenger through how to land the small plane

Are ATCOs actually trained for this kind of situation?

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@jmkni 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

Stupid question, but could this guy end up in some sort of legal trouble?

He's obviously a hero and saved the lives of everyone on board, but it's still illegal to fly a plane while unqualified, right?

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@alkonaut 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

I picture this scenario every time I land that stupid Cessna in ms flight simulator. It’s not going to happen, at least not until I follow someone up in an actual Cessna. But I’m not too worried about the landing by now at least.

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@nilayj 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

Why did this plane not have a copilot? Usually there are 2 people flying a plane?

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@alaricus 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

Reminds me of this classic: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airplane!

Where's Leslie Nielsen when you want him?

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@Biologist123 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

I really hope this doesn’t give EasyJet any cost-cutting ideas.

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@edm0nd 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

Really interesting.

Also a throwback to the infamous "barefoot bandit" who learned how to fly a plane by:

"It is believed that he learned how to fly small planes by reading aircraft manuals, handbooks, watching a "How to fly a small airplane" DVD, and playing flight simulator computer games."

He stole and flew a Cessna 400 and a Cessna 182.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colton_Harris_Moore

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@supercheetah 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

Mythbusters did something like this, but it was just using one of those big commercial training simulators instead of a real plane if I recall correctly, and showed that it was possible.

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@bombcar 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

My very first flight with a CFI had me do everything but the radio - the landing is perhaps the hardest part but if you have someone to talk you through it, and you can get vectored to the longest possible runway around, it's not that hard (you can basically fly level above the runway and slowly bring back power, which will eventually touch down).

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@jaywalk 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

Garmin's got a relatively new system called Autoland that is designed for this exact situation. It allows a plane to land simply by pushing one button. It will pick the nearest appropriate airport, communicate with ATC, and land the plane entirely on its own. It's pretty amazing technology: https://www.planeandpilotmag.com/article/garmin-autoland-thi...

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@NelsonMinar 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

Video of the landing, it's very nicely done. https://twitter.com/aviationbrk/status/1524410837414391809

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@vmception 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

bravo! any idea how hard or easy this is? did the passenger land on an airstrip or where? all details lacking

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@js2 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

Similar thing happened to Doug White in 2009 while in a twin-engine King Air 200. He had limited flight experience on single-engine Cessna 172s, but no flight experience on a King Air 200.

https://www.aopa.org/news-and-media/all-news/2009/april/14/u...

Simulation of the flight set to ATC recordings:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqPvVxxIDr0

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@zendaven 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

Did the passenger have to move the pilot out of his seat? Or is the plane designed so that the passenger can also pilot in scenarios like this?

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@ggcdn 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

its every bored daydreaming passenger's dream come true!

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@georgecmu 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

A reconstruction of the flight with the full comms recording and a partial transcription:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euHZI0f2fBU

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@mc4ndr3 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

Where was the copilot?

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@smm11 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

BS "no idea how to fly."

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@oh_sigh 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

ATC audio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MDwzNtDMlA

Listening to the passenger, it does sound like they have a modicum of flight experience.

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@Maursault 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

I grew up in Florida. It would take all my fingers and toes and more to count the number of times I have seen articles or even witnessed personally from the beach a pilot of a small craft either die naturally at the controls or have some medical event that causes a crash and death.

Why are small planes necessary? Am I wrong to believe what it seems like, that the overwhelmingly popular purpose is entertainment? Is anyone else sick of being lead poisoned?

I am all for scrutinizing and restricting the driver's licenses of the elderly or those with severe medical issues that will inevitably lead to an accident. This goes doubly so for pilots. I know there's a lot young pilots. I take no issue with you. But it seems like most pilots and owners of small planes are over retirement age. It is the entitlement that gets under my skin, the entitlement to poison everyone on the ground with lead as well as put innocent bystanders in danger. Why do we allow this? There are severe problems with conservative ideals, and mainly it has to do with entitlement, a telltale symptom of mental illness, namely, narcissism. Fuck narcissists.

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@mmcconnell1618 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

Mythbusters once went to a commercial airline simulator to test the idea that a passenger with no training could land the plane. Without ATC help, it wasn't a great outcome. With ATC, they faired much better. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJ8K-hOcRHk

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@qiskit 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

Question. How feasible would it to have an automated landing system for airplanes. So that in case the pilot is incapicitated, you could flip a switch and have the plane land itself.

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@mrbonner 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

So, if I spent 1000+ hours playing Falcon 4 and IL2-Sturmovik, would they classify me as "no idea how to fly"? I mean I have never control a plane in real-life but I wouldn't have much difficulty following flight instruction from ATC guy verbatim, right?

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@modinfo 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) once flew a plane too after the pilot fainted in 2001

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/mr-bean-flies-pla...

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@leemailll 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙



@tptacek 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

The CNN article has audio. I can't believe how calm the passenger is.

https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/florida-passenger-lan...

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@privatdozent 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

Mythbusters tried this (in a simulator) and both succeeded as long as the ATC was there to give instructions

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@civil_engineer 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

Pilot here. I'm floored that a person with no flying experience could put this airplane down without a scratch.

Air traffic controllers are not necessarily pilots, but luckily, this one was a pilot and certified instructor. ATC and passenger worked through a stressful situation to produce an amazing outcome. Bravo!

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@ctvo 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

This is a side of Florida Man we rarely hear about.

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@mostertoaster 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

This is just awesome.

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@rvba 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙



@cfield 7 days

Replying to @prostoalex 🎙

The landing was beautifully smooth — an impressive feat by any measure.

The best video of it I've seen so far is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2fQkJGbRcA

Another perspective is at 1:24 of this video: https://youtu.be/k1n85oiLqUc?t=84

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