WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The 64-year-old pilot of a small plane who passed out mid-flight, leaving his passenger with no flying experience to land the Cessna in Florida, suffered a tear in his aorta, according to doctors.
Kenneth Allen’s surgeon said his recovery has been remarkable in the days following the incident.
Cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Nishant Patel and his team operated on Allen at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center.
Allen was flying two passengers from the Bahamas on May 10 when he lost consciousness. According to previous reports, the Cessna Caravan took off from Leonard M. Thompson International Airport in the Bahamas and was headed towards the Florida coastline when Allen became “incapacitated.”
That’s when passenger Darren Harrison took over the controls and radioed for help.
“I’ve got a serious situation here,” Harrison said in the radio call. “My pilot has gone incoherent. I have no idea how to fly the airplane.”
An air traffic controller asked the passenger what his position was but Harrison was unable to deliver an accurate location.
“I have no idea,” the passenger said. “I can see the coast of Florida in front of me. And I have no idea.”
While the air traffic controller had never flown a Cessna Caravan, he guided Harrison in for a safe landing by looking at a picture of the cockpit.
Harrison later told NBC’s “Today” show the “hand of God” was with him when he landed the plane at Palm Beach International Airport.