Fla. Passenger Lands Plane After Pilot Dies

By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 13, 2009 11:00 AM CDT
A Northwest Airlines plane takes off from Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Andy King)
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(Newser) – A passenger landed a twin-engine plane in Florida yesterday after the pilot died during flight. FAA officials say he died after takeoff from a Naples airport while the plane, which had six people on board, was on autopilot and climbing toward 10,000 feet. The passenger who took over is licensed for single-engine planes but isn't certified to fly the larger King Air craft.

An air traffic controller helped the passenger down by calling a friend in Connecticut who knows the King Air plane and relaying instructions. The plane landed safely at Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers; it had been headed to Jackson, Miss.