A passenger has landed a twin-engine King Air plane in Florida after its pilot died during the flight on 14th April 2009. The passenger Mr.Doug White who saved himself and his family members was guided by air traffic controllers, landing the plane which was carrying his family some 30 minutes after the pilot lost consciousness.
Fiftysix years old Mr Doug White has a pilot’s license, but had only recently resumed flying and had no experience with a King Air. Mr White gained his pilot’s license in 1990, but had not used it for 18 years until starting to fly again recently. He had spent about 150 hours piloting a single-engine Cessna 172, but had not flown a King Air, which is larger and faster. He had not flown the Cessna higher than 7,000ft (2,130m), while the King Air climbed well above 10,000ft.
As he took over the controls, he told his wife and two children to pray. He was unable to use the autopilot, which had been programmed for landing in Mississippi. “I’m in the good Lord’s hands flying this Niner Delta Whiskey,” he told air traffic controllers, referring to the aircraft’s code.
One of the controllers called a friend who was certified to fly a King Air, and the friend issued instructions which were then relayed to Mr White. “It was a focused fear,” he said after landing the plane. “And I was in some kind of a zone that I can’t explain.”
In flights which do not have a co-pilot, the members of the crew can land the airplane and save many including themselves, in case of such rare incidents, provided they are trained to land the flight in case of exigencies.