Controller on helping 'hero' passenger with incredible plane landing after pilot emergency

·2 min read

Robert Morgan is being praised as a hero after he helped Darren Harrison — a passenger with no flying experience — land a plane in Florida when the pilot suffered a medical emergency midair.

"I feel like a hero. I kind of feel like, maybe I don’t deserve it," he told NBC's Kerry Sanders on TODAY Thursday.

Air traffic controller Robert Morgan tells Kerry Sanders how he helped a passenger with no flying experience land a plane at Palm Beach International Airport. (TODAY)
Air traffic controller Robert Morgan tells Kerry Sanders how he helped a passenger with no flying experience land a plane at Palm Beach International Airport. (TODAY)

Morgan is an air traffic controller and part-time flight instructor who helped Harrison and another person on board the aircraft land a single-engine Cessna 208 at the Palm Beach International Airport on Tuesday.

He told Sanders that he wasn’t even supposed to work that day when air traffic control in Fort Pierce, Florida, put him in contact with Harrison, who was on the plane taking a sudden nosedive over the Atlantic Ocean.

“The pilot was slumped over on the controls and they pushed him back, they get him out of his seat and then they had to get on the controls and pull back the plane so that it would climb up out of the dive that it was in," Morgan said.

Harrison, who was coming back from the Bahamas from a fishing trip, grabbed the controls while wearing flip flops and kept the plane steady.

From there, Morgan instructed Harrison to slow down the plane by pulling back on the throttle a bit.

Even though Boca Raton Airport was closer, Morgan decided that because Harrison was maintaining control of the plane so well, he should try to land the plane at Palm Beach International Airport, which had more landing space and emergency supplies.

When the aircraft approached the runway, it disappeared from Morgan's radar.

"It must have been no more than 10 seconds. And I kept trying to talk to him," Morgan recalled. He anxiously waited until he heard Harrison say the plane was 'on the ground' and asked what they should do next.

A small aircraft stands on the runway at Palm Beach International Airport. (TODAY)
A small aircraft stands on the runway at Palm Beach International Airport. (TODAY)

"My heart just kind of sank and I was just kind of thinking, thank God! Thank god. I was just overwhelmed with excitement," he added.

According to the FAA, Harrison made it to Palm Beach around 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

Once the plane landed, the emergency crews rushed to help the pilot, whose condition is still unknown.

The whole experience made Morgan feel like a great teacher, calling Harrison his "best student ever."