Pilot who passed out leaving passenger to fly plane is on the mend, surgeon says

Air traffic control helps man with no flying experience land safely at Palm Beach International Airport

Passenger lands small plane in West Palm Beach after pilot suffers medical emergency

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – The 64-year-old pilot of a small plane who passed out in flight, leaving his passenger with no flying experience to land the Cessna in Florida, suffered a tear in his aorta, according to his surgeon.

Kenneth Allen was flying two passengers from the Bahamas on May 10 when he lost consciousness. Dr. Nishant Patel, a cardiothoracic surgeon, at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center operated on Allen and said his recovery has been remarkable.

Passenger Darren Harrison had no flying experience but was able to take over and pilot the plane after Allen passed out.

Robert Morgan said he was outside the tower, reading a book on a break when he heard there was an inexperienced passenger flying a Cessna.

Morgan, a flight instructor, immediately got in the passenger’s ear, trying to help him land safely.

Morgan, an experienced flier, had never flown the specific Cessna model, so he used a picture of the cockpit to guide the novice through the procedures.

When he asked the passenger, later identified as Harrison, what he was seeing, the passenger said he was passing the shoreline near Boca Raton.

“Before I knew it, he was like, “I’m on the ground. How do I turn this thing off?’ " Morgan recalled.

The plane landed safely at Palm Beach International Airport.


About the Authors:

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true-crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local 10.com.