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First-Time Student to Traffic Control: My Teacher's Out Cold

Max Sylvester tries to land a Cessna two-seater in Australia
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 1, 2019 11:40 AM CDT
A Cessna 152 similar to the one flown by Max Sylvester.   (Wikimedia Commons)

(Newser) – A flying lesson took a chilling turn Saturday when the flight instructor passed out on his student pilot in mid-air, ABC News Australia reports. "He's leaning over my shoulder, I'm trying to keep him up but he keeps falling down," Max Sylvester told traffic control at Perth's Jandakot Airport in Western Australia. The air traffic controller calmly asked the 30-something trainee, "Do you know how to operate the plane?" Sylvester replied, "This is my first lesson." The operator told him to keep the Cessna two-seater level and at consistent altitude. "You're doing a really great job," the operator said. "I know this is really stressful." A little later: "Have you landed any aircraft before?"

"No, I haven't," Sylvester said. So the controller got him to concentrate on landing and complimented him as he went. "Well my flight instructor did say I was the best student he'd had," said Sylvester. Sure enough, he landed the plane at Jandakot about 50 minutes after the ordeal began, per the Sydney Morning Herald. Chuck McElwee, who owns the flight school Sylvester hired, said he'd never seen it happen before. "This could have gone way, way bad," he said. But he praised the tower, Sylvester, and Sylvester's wife, who "was a rock" waiting at Jandakot with their three children. The teacher was admitted to hospital in stable condition, per Australia's News Network. (Read more emergency landing stories.)

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