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

Inclusion super important to Monroe High senior

Sarah Reeves worked to make homecoming more representative of the student population.

Man, 60, in critical condition after Bothell crash

Police believe the driver may have been speeding when he hit a rock wall.

FBI operation arrests 3 linked to exploitation of 32 women

The sting focused on Everett and other cities in Snohomish, King, Pierce, Skagit and Spokane counties.

Man arrested in Monroe Walmart robbery; second suspect flees

The pair fled in a stolen Mitsubishi Lancer with a distinctive green spray paint job.

Fugitive convict, missing more than a year, surrenders

Charles Coggins, 60, turned himself in Monday. He could now spend up to 30 days behind bars.

Former homeless camp needs needles and garbage cleaned up

The Hand Up Project will lead a volunteer effort this weekend on wooded land south of Everett.

County Council postpones vote on conservation programs

A decision on funding agricultural and water-quality programs will come after the budget process.

A Q&A with the candidates running for Snohomish County Council

Republican incumbent Sam Low faces Democratic challenger Kristin Kelly in District 5.

Gang member sentenced as an adult for first-degree assault

Seth Friendly was 16 when he shot at a 17-year-old girl who was dating a rival gang member.

Most Read