A passenger, who recently became a national hero, after landing a plane despite having no training has spoken for the first time.
Darren Harrison, speaking in an interview revealed that what motivated him to land the plane after the pilot lost consciousness was that he was about to become a father.
The 39-year-old narrating what occurred said that after the pilot became incapacitated and the plane began to nose-dive at a high rate of speed. Harrison who was calm at the time said, “I knew if I didn’t react, then we would die”.
“I was pretty calm and collected the whole time because I knew it was a life-or-death situation. Either you do what you have to do to control the situation or you’re going to die,” Harrison said.
Harrison, who works at a flooring company, noted that his wife, Britney, who is 7-months pregnant with their unborn daughter, was his inspiration. He also acknowledged that there was an element of divine intervention. According to him, “the hand of God was on that plane”.
“I was climbing to the front and that plane was in a dive. I was just looking and I said to myself, ‘I can’t die today. Britney’s pregnant, I’ve got a baby on the way, not today. Today’s not my day’,” Harrison said.
Harrison’s Worst Nightmare
According to Harrison, his nightmare has always been getting on a flight and something horrible happens to the pilot. When his worst fears finally happened, he was just at the back relaxing in the plane, and even taking a photo of his shoe-less feet up on a chair, when the pilot suddenly called on him and the other passengers.
Harrison noted that the pilot made a strange movement and told the passengers, “‘Guys, I got to tell you, I don’t feel good… I got a headache and I’m fuzzy and I just don’t feel right,'”.
“I asked, ‘What do we need to do?’, but at that point, he didn’t respond at all. He was already gone,” he said, adding that the pilot “wasn’t responding to us yelling at him”.
“By the time I had moved forward to the front of the airplane, I realized that we had now gone into a dive at a very fast rate. All I saw when I came up to the front was water out the right window and I knew it was coming quick,” Harrison recalled.
“I grabbed the controls of the airplane and slowly started to pull back on the stick and turn,” he said, adding that he relied on “just common sense”.
“I knew if I went up and yanked the controls, the airplane would stall. And I also knew at the rate we were going, we were probably going way too fast and it would rip the wings off the airplane. That’s the scariest part of the whole story,” Harrison said.
Once leveled, he tried to grab the pilot’s headphones to reach ground control but it was broken with frayed wires.
“I immediately turn to the guy next to me and say, ‘I’m going to need your headset because I got to talk to somebody’,” he recalled.
Harrison then got through to Robert Morgan, an air traffic controller and part-time flight instructor, who was able to guide him to his first landing after he spotted the outline of Florida.
“When I was flying and saw the state of Florida, at that second I knew, ‘I’m going to land the airplane’,” Harrison recalled. “I don’t know what the outcome is going to be, I don’t know how it’s going to happen, but I’m going to have to land this airplane because there’s no other option”.
According to Harrison, once he got the plane to safety, he felt so comfortable flying he even offered to park the plane at the airport. He finally got to say “thank you for everything” to Robert and “threw the headset on the dash and said the biggest prayer I’ve ever said in my life”.
“That’s when all the emotions set in. It was a thankful prayer for the safety and everything that happened,” Harrison said.