Passenger lands Cessna after pilot dies

LONDON — When the pilot of his small plane collapsed in the cockpit, passenger John Wildey took the controls of the Cessna 172 over England, and suddenly began his first experience of landing — with some help from instructors on the ground.

“I hadn’t a clue what to do to get down,” the 77-year-old Wildey told the BBC on Wednesday. “I’ve never flown a plane before.”

Officials at Humberside Airport in northwest England put emergency plans into place and flight instructors were called in to help Wildey after the mayday call went out Tuesday evening.

Soon after he landed, his friend the pilot, the only other person aboard the aircraft, died.

Wildey praised the flight instructors who talked him through several attempts to land before he touched down in the dark in what he described as a “controlled crash.”

He said he began to veer off the runway as he was attempting to reach the brakes and could see a wall rapidly approaching.

“I thought ‘I ain’t going to do it,’ but we managed to stop in the end,” he said.

Emergency services were waiting when the plane touched down, after a few bumps.

Rob Murray, one of the flight instructors, said he was glad to have helped and that Wildey did a “remarkable job,” given he had never flown a plane before.

“It’s a fantastic feeling, knowing I have achieved something and probably saved somebody’s life,” Murray said.

He said the atmosphere in the control tower was tense and there were handshakes but no cheers when the plane touched down.

The emergency landing occurred not far from Sandtoft Airfield, where the plane had planned to return after a short flight.

At a news conference at Humberside Airport, commercial director Paul Litten expressed his condolences to the family of the man who died. Police said an inquest will be carried out to establish what caused the pilot’s death.

More in Local News

Police presence returns to Edmonds School District

Jacob Hubby is set to walk the halls of Meadowdale High School as a school resource officer.

Mukilteo crabber missing; his boat was found at Hat Island

Frank Urbick set out Thursday morning but did not return.

Police looking for leads in case of missing Snohomish man

Henry John Groeneveld, 63, was last seen on Monday, when he said something about going to “the river.”

Separate Everett fires send man to hospital, damage boat

The man was hospitalized for smoke inhalation from the early morning fire.

Suspected escort charged with felony assault, robbery

She allegedly told police she shot the man in the head “because he was performing (a sex act) wrong.”

Lives were on the line

After an estimated 350K emergency calls over 35 years, dispatcher Steve Williams is set to retire.

Celebrating the origins of Christmas

LDS church holds annual nativity festival featuring more than 600 sets.

Drive-by shooting reported in Marysville neighborhood

Police said there was no evidence to indicate it was targeted at a specific person or property.

Trooper’s car struck when he was arresting man for DUI

She drove away but was arrested for investigation of driving under the influence and hit-and-run.

Most Read