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Who is Darren Harrison? Florida Passenger With No Flying Experience Lands Plane After Pilot Falls ill

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Darren Harrison Florida Plane

Darren Harrison, A passenger with no flying experience landed a plane in Florida after the pilot passed out.

The passenger, Darren Harrison, can be heard informing air traffic control that a “severe scenario” was unfolding on an audio clip from the aircraft.

Just after noon on Tuesday, an air traffic controller who also instructs novice pilots assisted in guiding the man down to Palm Beach International Airport.

Later, the two hugged on the tarmac.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the pilot of the Cessna 208 was flying to Florida from the Bahamas when he informed his two passengers that he wasn’t feeling well (FAA).

He collided with the controls, sending the small plane into a fast turn and nosedive. BBC reported.

The nature of the medical problem remains unknown, but the pilot is being treated in a hospital.

The drama was captured in an onboard communication between Mr. Harrison and air traffic control:

HARRISON: “I’ve got a serious situation here. My pilot has gone incoherent. I have no idea how to fly the aeroplane.”

CONTROL: “ATC: 333 Lima Delta, Roger, what’s your position?”

HARRISON: “I have no idea. I can see the coast of Florida in front of me but I have no idea.”

CONTROL: “Maintain wings level and just try to follow the coast, either northbound or southbound. We’re trying to locate you.”

Florida Passenger plane
On Tuesday, a Cessna 208 Caravan is spotted landing at Palm Beach International Airport.
passenger fly plane florida
Darren Harrison, with no flying experience, lands a plane.

When a colleague came to notify Robert Morgan, an air traffic controller at Palm Beach International Airport, he was on his break.

Mr Morgan, a long-time flight instructor with more than 20 years in air traffic control, had never flown the precise model – a single-engine Cessna 208 – but was able to give instructions to the pilot using a map of the cockpit.

“I knew the plane was flying like any other plane. I just knew I had to keep him calm, point him to the runway and tell him how to reduce the power so he could descend to land,” Mr Morgan told WPBF-TV.

He told the FAA the surreal experience was “like a movie”.

As he approaches the landing, Mr Morgan is heard instructing the man to “push forward on the controls and descend at a very slow rate.”

Florida Passenger fly plane
Harrison (right) is seen with air traffic controller Robert Morgan, who drew out a diagram of a Cessna 208 Caravan cockpit to assist the 39-year-old with landing the plane.

Mr Morgan can be heard on the recording applauding the brave passenger to other pilots on the tarmac when the jet landed.

“Did you say the passengers landed the airplane?” the pilot responded. “Oh, my God. Great job.”

The passengers had planned to land in Boca Raton, Florida, but Mr Morgan instead directed Mr Harrison to Palm Beach International Airport, which had a longer runway, was less congested, and provided much-needed radio coverage, according to the FAA.

Mr Harrison flew the jet into final approach under Mr Morgan’s supervision, landing the plane safely at 16:37 local time. Neither of the passengers was hurt.

Who is Darren Harrison?

Darren Harrison, 39, has been revealed as the passenger who took control of a Cessna 208 Caravan departing from Marsh Harbor, the Bahamas on Tuesday and successfully landed the plane at Palm Beach International Airport in Florida after the pilot suffered a medical issue and fell unconscious.

Harrison is currently employed with Sunshine Interiors, a family-owned interior design firm in Florida, as a lead commercial and residential flooring specialist.

Darren Harrison sunshine interiors
Darren Harrison Sunshine Interiors

According to his employers, the 39-year-old has spent 16 years in the flooring sector after being introduced to it by his father. He now works on commercial projects around Florida.

Matthew Harrison, 37, told the New York Post that his older cousin Darren, vice president of Sunshine Interiors, was going home to his pregnant wife after a fishing trip in the Bahamas.

Matthew expressed his disbelief that his own relative was responsible for the amazing landing.

“I was like, ‘Wait, that’s my cousin?” Matthew told the Post. 

Matthew stated he had no idea his relative could be that composed under duress.

“That was insane. I’m impressed too, he was so calm, I’ve never known him to be that calm before,” he said.

Glenn Harrison, Darren’s uncle, said he knew his nephew could hold his cool under pressure.

“I know he was probably scared to death but it doesn’t surprise me him doing what he did,’ Glenn told The Post. ‘He’s pretty good about keeping his cool, it doesn’t surprise me he kept his composure, followed directions and everything turned out great.”

Matthew said he texted Darren’s wife to express his admiration for his cousin.

“I messaged his wife and said, ”Will you reach out to him and let him know I’m super impressed and proud of him, that’s amazing,” Matthew told the Post. 

“She said, ”I know that’s not like a phone call you expect to get…” and when he told her what happened she said, ”You did what?” Matthew said.

I enjoy writing about sports news, business, scholarship programs, and movies, among other topics. When I'm not creating content, I'm most often playing chess.

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