A rookie pilot in Australia has successfully landed a plane during his first lesson — with the help of air traffic control. The man was forced into an emergency solo landing after his instructor passed out.
A trainee pilot was literally sent on a steep learning curve after his instructor blacked out during his first lesson in Perth, Australia.
Max Sylvester was forced to perform a solo landing in a Cessna two-seater with an unconscious teacher slumped on his shoulder at an altitude of 1,900 meters (6,200 feet).
'This is my first lesson'
Air traffic controllers, scrambling to find someone who knew the plane, guided him down after the young Australian managed to send out a mayday message.
"Do you know how to operate the airplane?" the air traffic controller at Perth's Jandakot airport asked, according to a recording of their exchange.
"This is my first lesson," Sylvester responded, adding that he had never landed an aircraft before.
The tower then responded: "The first thing that we are going to do is make sure that the wings stay level," before encouraging him and keeping him calm.
Instructor in stable condition
Some 20 minutes and several passes over the runway later, the plane took a bumpy landing, and the instructor Robert Mollard was taken to hospital in a stable condition.
Sylvester's wife and three children watched the drama unfold from the ground.
The owner of the flying school, Chuck McElwee, told reporters he'd never seen an incident like it in his 30 years of flying.
"This could have gone way, way bad," he said, according to public broadcaster ABC.
bk/msh (AFP, dpa, AP)