Passenger Lands Plane After Pilot Falls Ill

9 October 2013

The pilot of a light aircraft who fell ill forcing his passenger to perform an emergency landing at Humberside Airport has died overnight.

During the flight on Tuesday evening, the pilot made a distress call when he became so sick he was unable to continuing flying the light aircraft.

Humberside Police confirmed the pilot died later that night but do not yet know his cause of death.

Two flight instructors were called in to talk to the passenger from the ground while he took control of the plane, an airport spokesman said.

The man had very limited flying experience and had never landed an aircraft before.

Despite this, he managed to successfully land at the North Lincolnshire airport just after 7.30pm.

Roy Murray, one of the instructors who helped coach the passenger down, said the man completed the landing with no lighting inside the cabin.

"I didn’t want to upset him and tell him to move all round the cockpit (trying to locate the light switches), all I was interested in was keeping him flying the aeroplane straight and level."

Mr Murray, who has taught flying for 30 years, said he's never come across a situation like this before.

"When I think about it now that lad did extremely well, no lights, in the dark, no experience, flying a strange aeroplane in a strange area, he must have been nerve-wracked as well as us."

The man took three passes over the runway before landing on the fourth approach.

Mr Murray says the man – who he knows only as John – kept his composure and was able to land the plane safely.

"He was very calm and he followed all our instructions and he did a beautiful landing," he said.

"I’ve never met him, I’d like to meet him, obviously just to say 'Well done, lad. Together we did it'."

Police have not yet released the name or age of the pilot who died. His family has been informed of his death.

The light aircraft took off from Sandtoft Airfield, near Doncaster, for training with one passenger.

The man and pilot were the only two people on board the aircraft.

Humberside Airport praised the response of emergency services in a tweet: "We are pleased to say that the incident that started a few hours ago has been successfully dealt with. Great response from emergency svs!" the airport said.

Flights coming into the airport were delayed while the plane was moved from the runway.

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