Passenger Takes Control to Safely Land Plane After Pilot Had Fatal Medical Emergency Mid-air

Passenger Takes Control to Safely Land Plane After Pilot Had Fatal Medical Emergency Mid-air

  • A passenger helped land the private plane they were in after its pilot experienced a medical emergency in the air
  • The pilot, who later died, has since been identified as Duke University professor Joseph Izatt
  • In a statement, his school dean described Izatt as an exceptionally thoughtful leader who weighed every decision with care

A passenger helped land a private plane safely in North Carolina on Sunday, 14 April, after the aircraft's pilot suddenly experienced a fatal medical emergency.

Passenger lands plane
A passenger landed a plane safely due to a medical emergency. Image: DuKai photographer. Image used for illustration purposes.
Source: Getty Images

Passenger takes control of plane

According to a spokesperson for the airport and an incident report obtained by PEOPLE Magazine, the passenger took control of the Cirrus SR-20 and landed it at Raleigh-Durham International Airport shortly after the medical emergency was reported onboard the aircraft.

The spokesperson says the pilot was transported to a local hospital shortly after the private plane landed safely on RDU's secondary runway.

Read also

Western Cape SAPS officer killed with his service gun, SA heartbroken

PAY ATTENTION: Let yourself be inspired by real people who go beyond the ordinary! Subscribe and watch our new shows on Briefly TV Life now!

According to local ABC affiliate WTVD and NBC affiliate WRAL-TV, the victim has been identified as Duke University professor Joseph Izatt. The passenger's identity has not been disclosed.

Duke University speaks about victim

According to a news release from the university, Izatt joined Duke in 2001 and served as a professor of engineering and the chair of Duke's Department of Biomedical Engineering.

“He was an exceptionally thoughtful leader who weighed every decision with a care that originated with his deep love for the BME community,” said Pratt School Dean Jerome Lynch in the release.
“The integrity and humility he brought as a school leader will be missed.” he added

Cellphone footage captured by Evan Caulfield showed paramedics putting the person in an ambulance, per WTVD.

Read also

Cape Flats mourn after 5 people tragically killed in mass shooting

"I knew I was witnessing something," he said.

What kind of medical emergency occurred on the plane or when is unclear.

Passenger without flying experience lands plane

In another related story, Briefly News reported that a private plane pilot approaching the Palm Beach International Airport in Florida had a medical emergency and could not land the plane. The passenger informed air traffic control about the situation, and they assisted him in landing the plane.

A pilot waiting to take off from the airport could not believe his ears when he was told a passenger had landed the plane, as the pilot had a medical emergency.


Rebone Lesejane avatar

Rebone Lesejane (Editor) Rebone has experience in news bulletin reading, writing, content writing and editing. She did news bulletin reading and writing during her volunteering days at Pukfm and worked as a journalist intern and then as a freelance journalist for Newskoop. She wrote and edited entertainment, arts, culture and leisure content for What’s On In Joburg. Rebone passed the Google News Initiative training. You can contact her at