A passenger with no flying experience managed to complete a harrowing landing at a British airport on Tuesday after the pilot of the small plane he was flying in collapsed.
John Wildey landed the four-seater aircraft in the dark having never attempted a landing before. ”I hadn’t a clue what to do to get down,” he told the BBC.
“It’s nothing short of heroic. He remained calm throughout the incident and keeping his head saved his life,” a spokesman for Humberside Airport told ABC News.
According to the spokesman, the plane set off from Sandtoft Airfield (roughly 25 miles from Humberside) and they were on their way back after a daylong trip when the pilot was stricken.
Humberside Airport received a mayday call from the Cessna 172 aircraft, alerting the control room that the pilot had collapsed leaving Wildey, the only other person on board, with no other choice than to perform an emergency landing.
When the emergency was announced at the airport, police, ambulances and 55 firefighters arrived at the North Lincolnshire airport along with two flying instructors, who were tasked with the job of helping the passenger land the plane.
Roy Murray, an instructor at the Frank Morgan School of Flying was one of the people in communication with Wildey.
“We had to get him to do two to three circuits. The last one was not very good so we told him to go round again and on the fourth one he managed it,” Murray said in a press conference.
The instructor said that he did a “beautiful,” job landing the plane, adding, “I would not be frightened to fly with him.”
Wildey described the landing as “a controlled crash,” saying that the plane hit the ground with a large “bump.”
Although an eyewitness is reported to have seen sparks fly from the plane during the landing, Humberside Airport say that no damage was done to the airfield. The plane did end up on the grass when Wildey turned off the tarmac at the end of the landing. A punctured tire was the only damage done to the aircraft.
The pilot, who has not been named, has died, according to Humberside police. According to a statement, an autopsy will be done, though “the death is not being treated as suspicious.”