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Passenger lands plane in Britain after pilot collapses

October 09, 2013|By Alexandra Zavis

A passenger landed a plane at Humberside Airport in Britain after the pilot collapsed at the controls, according to news reports.

The two were the only people on board the four-seater Cessna 172 when the pilot became ill Tuesday evening as they headed back to Sandtoft Airfield, near the northeastern town of Doncaster, Reuters news agency reported.

John Wildey told the British Broadcasting Corp. that he had never flown a plane when he grabbed the controls from the pilot and called “Mayday, mayday, mayday.”

“I hadn't a clue what to do to get down,” he said.

The plane was diverted to nearby Humberside Airport, where Wildey was guided through an emergency landing by instructors called in by air traffic controllers, British news reports said.

One of the instructors, Roy Murray, told reporters that Wildey made three passes over the airport before landing the plane on his fourth attempt.

"He did a beautiful landing, in my opinion,” Murray said at a news conference. "He was calm. He was answering the calls I made to him quite professionally.”

Wildey told the BBC he didn’t think he would make it.

“We touched [down] and it was a right bump, two or three bumps,” he said. “I suppose it was a controlled crash really.”

The pilot was later pronounced dead of undetermined causes, Humberside police said in a statement Wednesday. A postmortem was planned.

At the request of the family, police did not identify the pilot.


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Twitter: @alexzavis

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