Student Pilot On First Lesson Forced To Make Emergency Landing After Instructor Passes Out
Max Sylvester, 29, was out in the skies for his first lesson in the two-seater Cessna when instructor Robert Mollard suddenly fell unconscious just over an hour into the flight - something the trainee pilot said happens 'only in movies'.
While it was the trainee pilot's first ever lesson in that particular plane, it was also only his third lesson overall.
Sylvester - whose wife and three young children were watching on from the ground - said adrenaline kicked in during the (literally) 'fight or flight' scenario on Saturday afternoon.
He rang air traffic control in Western Australia and explained what had happened.
In audio provided to ABC, Sylvester can be heard saying: "He's leaning over my shoulder, I'm trying to keep him up but he keeps falling down."
The controller then asks: "Do you know how to operate the aeroplane?"
Sylvester replies: "This is my first lesson."
Over the next 62 minutes, the controller managed to keep Sylvester calm and guided him through the emergency landing - with his instructor still unresponsive.
Urging Sylvester to focus on landing the plane, they said: "You're doing a really great job. I know this is really stressful.
"But you're going to do an amazing job and we're going to help you get down to the ground."
The controller continued to encourage Sylvester and praised him for doing well, with the student joking back: "Well, my flight instructor did say I was the best student he'd had."
Eventually, Sylvester landed the plane safely an hour later at Jandakot Airport, but refused to believe he was any sort of hero.
He said: "I am just a student pilot doing what we've been trained to do."
"What kept me alive was my study. That definitely saved me.
"If I hadn't have studied, we wouldn't be here - it is at simple as that."
Local media reported Mollard, the New Zealand-born instructor from the Air Australia International flying school Sylvester was flying with, had been taken into hospital in a serious but stable condition.
Sylvester said he has since gone to visit Mollard, but did not comment on the instructor's condition.
Featured Image Credit: ABC