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Pilot becomes incapacitated mid-flight — so a passenger with no flight experience pulls a 'Mission: Impossible'

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Photo by Raytheon/Getty Images

A private plane passenger with zero flying experience was able to take control during a tense situation after a pilot became incapacitated mid-flight, CNN has reported.

What are the details?

The incident unfolded on Tuesday afternoon outside the Palm Beach International Airport in Florida.

The outlet reported that audio from LiveATC.net detailed the moments a male passenger radios air traffic control and says that the pilot has become "incoherent."

"I've got a serious situation here," the unnamed passenger told air traffic controllers. "My pilot has gone incoherent, and I have no idea how to fly the airplane."

A quick-thinking air traffic controller by the name of Robert Morgan responded and then guided the passenger in safely landing the plane at Palm Beach International.

Morgan could be heard telling the passenger, "Try to hold the wings level and see if you can start descending for me. Push forward on the controls and descend at a very slow rate. Try to follow the coast either north or southbound. We're trying to locate you."

With Morgan's help, the passenger was able to maintain a controlled descent and land the plane.

The outlet reported that other chatter heard a second air traffic controller telling pilots on the ground what happened in the air just moments before.

"You just witnessed a couple of passengers land that plane," a tower operator can be heard telling a pilot waiting on the tarmac.

The pilot, whose plane was bound for Charlotte, North Carolina, could be heard responding, "Did you say the passengers landed the airplane? Oh, my God. Great job."

What else?

Morgan later told WPBF-TV that he is glad he was able to help the man.

Morgan, who has worked for two decades in tower control, is also a seasoned flight instructor.

"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," Morgan told the station.

He said that he'd never flown the model in question, so he pulled up a photo of the aircraft's cockpit in order to guide the passenger through the procedure.

"Before I knew it, he said, 'I’m on the ground, how do I turn this thing off?'" Morgan recalled.

Morgan said he met the passenger on the tarmac and the two embraced.

"It felt really good to help somebody, and he told me that he couldn’t wait to get home and hug his pregnant wife," Morgan said.

In a statement, the Federal Aviation Administration said that the pilot suffered a "possible medical issue" while flying the plane. The pilot's condition is not known at the time of this report.

The agency is investigating the Tuesday incident.

Air Traffic Controller helps passenger land plane www.youtube.com

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