Passenger Lands Plane After Pilot Dies

Guided to ground for emergency landing

By Brian Hamacher
|  Monday, Apr 13, 2009  |  Updated 9:54 PM PDT
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Passenger Lands Plane After Pilot Dies

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A passenger was forced to make an emergency landing at a Fort Myers airport after the pilot of a small aircraft suddenly died during the flight, saving five people onboard.

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It sounds like something out of the movie "Airplane!," but without the hilarious mid-air hijinks.

A passenger was forced to make an emergency landing at a Fort Myers airport after the pilot of a small aircraft suddenly died during the flight, saving five people onboard.

The plane was on autopilot and had nearly reached 10,000 feet when the pilot died. The plane, which had left Marco Island Executive Airport Sunday and was headed to Jackson, Mississippi made the landing at Southwest Florida International Airport.

The passenger who took the controls has been licensed for single-engine planes for 20 years, but isn't certified to fly the King Air plane, a large luxury model. To help guide the pilot in, an air traffic controller called a friend in Connecticut who is rated to fly the larger aircraft.

It's unclear what caused the pilot's death.

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