TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The 64-year-old pilot of a small plane who passed out mid-flight, leaving his passenger with no flying experience to land in Florida, shared his story for the first time on Thursday.
Pilot Kenneth Allen recalled the heart-pounding moments he lost consciousness behind the yoke of a Cessna Caravan on May 10, over 10,000 feet above the Florida coast, leaving his Lakeland passenger with no flying experience to land the plane.
Allen and his passengers were reunited at the Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center Thursday for a news conference where Allen spoke following his medical treatment alongside the doctor who performed his life-saving surgery.
According to previous reports, Allen was flying two passengers from the Bahamas when he lost consciousness. His Cessna Caravan took off from Leonard M. Thompson International Airport in the Bahamas and was headed towards the Florida coastline when Allen became “incapacitated.”
“I remember telling Russ and Daren that I didn’t feel well. My head was pounding and I was seeing little blue lights sparkling through here,” Allen recalled as he motioned to his forehead. “They asked me what that means and I said ‘I don’t know I have a really bad headache.'”
That was the moment Allen lost consciousness.
“That was it. I can’t really recall anything until my guys over here were pulling me out of the airplane,” Allen said.
Russell Frank, who introduced himself as the guy known nationally as the “other passenger” on the flight, credited air traffic controller Robert Morgan for his quick thinking and assistance in guiding the plane back to safety.
“Rob’s lifesaving instructions on the ground gave us, I think, a better than average chance of landing that plane,” Frank said.