Student pilot forced to make emergency landing

The Omarama parents of a West Australian flight instructor who fell unconscious mid-flight, forcing his inexperienced pupil to land the plane, say they are hugely relieved the drama ended without injury.

Robert Mollard was in a stable condition in hospital yesterday, though the reason for his slumping unconscious in the cockpit is still a mystery.

On Saturday Mr Mollard's pupil, Max Sylvester, was having his first lesson in a two-seater as his wife and three children watched from below.

Unable to call on his ailing instructor, Mr Sylvester was talked through how to land the plane by an air traffic control operator, and brought the Cessna 152 back to earth without incident.

Mr Mollard's father Trevor, the chief flying instructor at the Omarama Gliding Club, said his son was "quite coherent now''.

"We are about to head over to Perth and give him our support.

"It is a great relief that it ended up that way.''

His son learned how to fly powered aircraft at Paraparaumu, near Wellington.

He had been living in Australia for eight years, and had recently qualified as a flight instructor.

Mr Sylvester was an hour into his lesson when he realised his instructor's plight. The air traffic operator kept the trainee calm as he talked him through an emergency landing at Jandakot Airport.

The controller told Mr Sylvester how to reduce the plane's speed, then discussed the landing.

"Have you landed any aircraft before?'' he asked.

"No, I haven't,'' Mr Sylvester said.

The controller encouraged Mr Sylvester to focus on landing the plane and reinforced that he was doing well.

"Well, my flight instructor did say I was the best student he'd had,'' Mr Sylvester said.

- Additional reporting RNZ


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