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Page last updated at 09:54 GMT, Tuesday, 14 April 2009 10:54 UK
Man lands plane after pilot death
King Air plane
A King Air aeroplane pictured in flight

A passenger has managed to land a plane at an airport in Florida after the pilot died during the flight.

Air traffic controllers talked him through as he managed to bring down the King Air craft with five passengers.

The drama unfolded on Sunday within minutes of departure from Marco Island, near Naples, Florida, on a flight to Jackson, Mississippi.

The plane eventually landed safely at Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers.

The man who took over the flight was only licensed to fly single-engine planes and not the larger twin engine King Air plane.

He got his pilot's licence in 1990, but said 18 years had passed until he recently started flying again.

"It was a focused fear," he said after landing. "And I was in some kind of a zone that I can't explain."

An air traffic controller helped the passenger down by calling a friend in Connecticut who knew the King Air plane.

The controller then relayed the instructions back to the passenger.

Federal Aviation Administration officials said the pilot died shortly after takeoff as the plane climbed up to 10,000 feet.

The cause of the pilot's death has not been disclosed pending an autopsy.



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