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When passengers must take control of the plane… – France

As for a takeoff, the video broadcast by the local American channel WPBF taped more than one viewer in his chair on Tuesday. With this difference that it was not a takeoff but… a remarkable landing. That of a small passenger plane whose pilot, victim of an illness between the Bahamas and Florida (United States), had lost consciousness, forcing his two passengers to a test of self-control which they would never believe. able.
“I have a serious problem. I don’t know how to control the plane at all,” one of the passengers told air traffic controllers. “Keep the wings horizontal and try to follow the coast”, was the response to the neophyte who, icing on the cake, had no idea of ​​the geographical position of the aircraft, a single-engine Cessna 208 Caravan. Located a little later, 10 km from Palm Beach International Airport, the autodidact was invited to make a slow descent there and managed to land gently on the runway, like a pro!

A precedent last month in Morbihan

This news item is reminiscent of the crash of a private plane that occurred on April 9 in Plouhinec (56). The aircraft had taken off from the civilian airport of Lann-Bihoué when its pilot, a 66-year-old Ploemeurois, fell ill. His passenger, who was taking her first flight lesson, then grabbed the handle to try to straighten the aircraft, preventing it from crashing into a residential area. The two-seater Dragon Fly has finished its race in the swamps. The pilot did not survive. His passenger, aged 33, managed to extract herself, safe and sound, from the damaged machine and raise the alarm.

Dual controls and permanent contact

To be exceptional, these emergency landings carried out by passengers who have never flown in their life do not fall within the scope of the impossible mission. According to Aurélien Le Gouge, pilot at the Aéroclub de Pontivy – Center Bretagne, keeping a plane in the air is not complicated in itself. “All aircraft have dual controls on board. And, during the flight, we are in constant contact with the air traffic controllers, who visualize our progress and can guide us. »
Pushing the stick forward to bring the aircraft down, bringing it back to regain altitude and operating the throttle to reduce or increase engine power can be enough to land in an emergency. In theory. Because no one acts as a pilot. “Things get complicated depending on the weather conditions and if the machine needs to take out a landing gear, for example”.

“A remarkable cold blood”

In fact, the prowess of the passenger of the Cessna, in Palm Beach, is a small feat. “Getting your light aircraft pilot’s license (European title: LAPL-A) requires 45 hours of flight training, including at least six hours in supervised solo flight (alone on board)”, informs the Aero-club of the Granite Coast, in Lannion (22) . A program that has nothing superfluous. “In the case of this week’s landing in Florida, the most impressive thing is the passenger’s coolness,” judge Pontivyen Aurélien Le Gouge. An unfailing stoicism that should soon serve him again. The hero of Palm Beach, whose identity has not been revealed, confided that his wife is due to give birth soon…

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