Pilot Dies, Passenger Saves Life in Dramatic Landing

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By Sounak Mukhopadhyay | October 10, 2013 12:00 PM EST

You have seen this in the movie 2012 where a rookie flew an airplane to save lives. Here is one example how films are inspired by real life incidents or vice versa.

A passenger who had almost zero flying experience was able to land an airplane safely while he was instructed by on-ground personnel. It happened on Wednesday, Oct 9, in a British airport when the light airplane needed someone to take control of it after the pilot fell sick.

The passenger, whose name is disclosed only as John, had to take control of the 4-seater Cessna 172 after the pilot became unwell. The passengers were heading back to Sandtoft, a small airfield near Doncaster situated in the north-eastern part of England. The plane, however, had to be taken to a bigger airport after it had been decided that a flying instructor would instruct one of the passengers to divert the plane to Humberside Airport. Roy Murray was given the responsibility to instruct John.

The spokesman of the airport said that John had previously had the experience of flying an airplane for around half an hour only. On the other hand, he was never responsible for landing an aircraft. It was getting dark and John had to land the plane with no prior experience. It definitely seemed like a bad idea. However, John was able to do the improbable after he flew over the airport for a couple of times.

According to instructor Murray, it was a "beautiful landing" by the inexperienced man. He said that he was pretty conscious that the man should not panic under any circumstances. He called it a "fantastic feeling" to have helped the life of the passenger. The airplane was successfully landed on the fourth attempt. The airport control room cheered audibly after the plane landed safely.

Even though instructor Murray was able to save the passenger's life, the pilot - whose illness caused the entire episode - died shortly after the plane landed.

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