Airplane Passenger Grabs Controls And Makes A Life Or Death Decision

An interior designer who landed a plane earlier this month after the pilot passed out said fighting the nose dive was “the scariest part” of the whole experience during an interview Sunday.

Darren Harrison, 39, was flying from the Bahamas to Florida when the pilot of the single-engine Cessna 208 fell unconscious. Harrison rushed to the cockpit to land the plane himself even though he had no flying experience. The pilot suffered a medical emergency and became “incoherent,” so Harrison took action as the aircraft went into a nose-dive.

“Just common sense, I guess, being on airplanes, because I knew if I went up and yanked that the airplane would stall,” Harrison said.“And I also knew at the rate we were going, we were probably going way too fast and it would rip the wings off the airplane.

“By the time I had moved forward to the front of the airplane, I realized that we had now gone into a dive at a very fast rate,” Harrison said. “All I saw, when I came up the front, was water out the right window, and I knew it was coming quickly. Very, very quickly.”

Harrison described this moment as “the scariest part of the whole story.” He noted that if he hadn’t reacted, he, the pilot, and the pilot’s friend would all die.

“When I was flying and saw the state of Florida, at that second, I knew, I’m going to land there,” Harrison continued. “I don’t know what the outcome is going to be. I don’t know how it’s going to happen. But I’m going to have to land this airplane, because there is no other option.”

After landing the plane successfully, Harrison said the reality finally hit him.

“I said thank you for everything, and I threw the headset on the dash and said the biggest prayer I’ve ever said in my life,” said Harrison, who is expecting a child with his wife later this summer.

An air traffic controller and part-time flight instructor Robert Morgan helped guide Harrison through the landing, calling him the “best student ever.”

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