A student pilot landed a plane by himself after his flying instructor passed out mid-flight.
The trainee pilot, Max Sylvester, described the harrowing experience to Australia’s ABC News. Sylvester said he was partway through his first flying lesson when his teacher slumped over, unconscious.
Sylvester called an air traffic operator who coached him through an emergency landing.
“Do you know how to operate the airplane?” the operator on the ground asked Sylvester, in audio of the incident posted by ABC.
“This is my first lesson,” Sylvester replied.
Still, he sounded calm and collected as the operator helped him land the plane, even managing to joke a bit with the operator.
"Well, my flight instructor did say I was the best student he'd had," Sylvester said.
“You’re doing a really great job. I know this is is really stressful,” the operator told him. “But you’re going to do an amazing job and we’re going to help you get down to the ground, OK?”
Eventually, after nearly an hour, Sylvester safely landed the two-seater Cessna aircraft at Jandakot Airport in western Australia. His instructor was taken to the hospital and is in stable condition, according to ABC.
Sylvester later told ABC that being a diligent student saved his life.
"I am just a student pilot doing what we've been trained to do," he said.
"What kept me alive was my study. That definitely saved me,” he added. “If I hadn't have studied, we wouldn't be here — it is as simple as that."
An email seeking comment sent to an address believed to be Sylvester's wasn't immediately returned.