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PPL helps land 757
First Posted: Mon 29 Jan 2007
Admit it, we all dream of this. But this time it was for real...
Stephen Brown, a US PPL with 150 hours logged over 18 month - and more used to piloting Cessna 182s - was flying with some business associates in a Continental 757-300 on a flight to Mexico when the captain was taken ill.
The first officer took over the captain's seat, having made an announcement asking whether there were any pilots on board. Both Brown and a colleague presented themselves as current PPLs, but Brown was selected to sit in the left-hand seat. Asked when he had last flown, he replied that it had been the previous week. "Good, you're current," said the captain.
Brown was, he reports, given tasks such as gear and flap selection, and handling much of the radio work.
The aircraft diverted to a Texas airport in order to get medical attention for the captain (sadly, he was later reported to have died), breaking cloud at 800 ft on final.
Brown says he probably felt less nervous than anyone else on the aircraft, as he could see that everything was being handled properly. He praised the unnamed stand-in captain as being completely in control of the situation. Brown also pointed out that the 'captain' could have landed the aircraft on his own, without help, but Brown was happy to be able to help in the emergency as an extra set of eyes and ears, and maybe take some of the pressure off, allowing the professional pilot to make decisions more easily.
Brown also praised the way in which the whole crew coped with the emergency, and the way in which the passengers stayed calm.