A trainee pilot on his first flight has managed to safely land his plane after his instructor lost consciousness while in the air.
Max Sylvester was circling the skies above Perth in a two-seater Cessna on Saturday afternoon when his instructor collapsed and could not be woken up.
It was Mr Sylvester’s first time behind the controls of a plane.
“He’s leaning over my shoulder. I’m trying to keep him up but he keeps falling down,” Mr Sylvester told the controller from the plane.
“Do you know how to operate the airplane?” the controller asked.
In dramatic audio obtained by the ABC, air traffic control can be heard reassuring the first-time pilot as he made his descent.
“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,” the controller said.
Mr Sylvester tried a few times to wake his unconscious teacher. But he was eventually forced to land the plane himself at Jandakot Airport, in Perth’s southern suburbs.
The instructor, named by the ABC as New Zealand-born Robert Mollard, was taken to hospital. He is said to be in a stable condition.
‘Just worked out this time’
Chuck McElwee, the owner of the flying school, said he had never dealt with such an incident in 28 years of teaching would-be pilots.
Mr McElwee praised air traffic control for the “exceptional job” they did in coaching Mr Sylvester down out of the sky.
“This good outcome is what you hope for. It just worked out this time,” he said.
“[But] It happened the way it was supposed to happen – this is the way we teach them [to land].”
Mr McElwee also lauded Mr Sylvester’s wife, who was reportedly watching the nightmare unfold with the couple’s three young children, for the way she “held it together” for the young family.