Powered by With

I Could “Design” a Landing

Darren Harrison, from Lakeland Florida, co-owns a design and flooring shop with his father. He’s very good and highly experienced at design but not at piloting planes. Which is what made things so awkward when, on a flight in a small Cessna aircraft off the coast of Florida, Darren found his pilot incoherent and unresponsive.

Darren took the controls and somehow contacted air traffic control. His calm explanation that he was in a small plane, without a pilot and, could he get some help in flying and landing the plane safely took even the normally stoic and calm controllers by storm?

When the pilot collapsed, he fell against the controls, pushing the plane into a dangerous dive. Darren was at the back of the small aircraft, but made his way forward, pushing the pilot out of the way and trying to steady the plane as best he could. It was in that moment that Darren reached Robert Morgan, who worked at Palm Beach Florida airport as a part-time air traffic controller and instructor.

Robert knew how to guide airplanes and he knew how to fly, but he wasn’t familiar with the particular type of small plane Darren was in. So, Robert found a copy of the plane’s controls and, using that as his guide, walked Darren through his first flying lesson, over the Atlantic Ocean, with a plane full of passengers.

Working together, “with” Robert walking Darren through the controls, guiding him to what to push, pull, switch on or off or move up or down next, Darren found the runway, line up for approach and land successfully. In the moments just before landing Darren’s plane disappeared from Robert’s screen so he couldn’t be sure if the plane had crashed or landed until Darren came back on the radio to report, according to the Huffington Post online, that the landing had been rocky but all were safe. Now, he just needed help taxiing in to the terminal.

Darren’s calm and quick response in concert with Robert’s experience and ability to learn a new airplane at the moment created a “work with me” scenario that not only amazed readers and watchers of that day’s news but also saved lives. Sometimes being a talented designer is the second best job you’ll ever do–after you land an aircraft and bring everyone safely home.