A trainee pilot behind the control for his first lesson has made an emergency landing after his instructor fell unconscious.
Max Sylvester took to the sky in a Cessna aircraft on Saturday afternoon in Western Australia before he called air traffic control when his instructor collapsed mid-flight.
“He’s leaning over my shoulder, I’m trying to keep him up but he keeps falling down,” Mr Sylvester told the controller in audio provided to the ABC.
“Do you know how to operate the airplane?”, the operator asked.
“This is my first lesson,” Mr Sylvester replies, adding he’s never landed a plane either.
The controller then guides the student through the landing, and praises his good work.
“You’re doing a really great job. I know this is really stressful. But you’re going to do an amazing job and we’re going to help you get down to the ground,” he said.
Mr Sylvester tried to lift the Air Australia International flying school instructor’s head but he remained unconscious and unresponsive, the audio reveals.
Mr Sylvester landed the plane safely at Jandakot Airport.
The instructor was taken to hospital in a stable condition about 5pm.
Chuck McElwee, who owns and operates the flying school, aid he’d never had an incident like this in his 28 years in business.
“[But] It happened the way it was supposed to happen – this is the way we teach them [to landing],” he told AAP.
“This good outcome is what you hope for. It just worked out this time.”
Mr McElwee praised the young pilot, tower controller and the back-up instructor who all “did an exceptional job”, and worked “incredibly well” to get everyone safely on the ground.
He also praised the trainee pilot’s wife who “held it together” from the ground for their three young children.