Teen Takes Over From Unconscious Pilot (Corrected)


An Australian teen who had a little supervised stick time was able to maintain control of a Cherokee 180 after the pilot lost consciousness on Saturday. About 45 minutes later the pilot, 61-year-old Derek Neville, came to and 19-year-old Troy Jenkins helped to land the aircraft safely back at Forbes Airport in New South Wales. “He (Neville) sort of poked me in the right direction and we both brought it down,” Jenkins told The Associated Press a day after the incident. Jenkins and Neville were only about 10 minutes into the flight when Neville inexplicably passed out. Jenkins said Neville, a family friend, had let him take the controls before and he was comfortable keeping the Cessna straight and level. He had also landed once under Neville’s supervision.

“Keeping it up wasn’t a problem, it was the landing part I wasn’t sure of. I was pretty scared,” he said. “I thought I had to save myself and him. It was quite an experience.” After Neville collapsed, Jenkins called for help on the radio and pilot Paul Reynolds rendezvoused with the Cherokee, providing encouragement and advice as he flew alongside. He got Jenkins to fly at 2,000 feet around the airport as they figured out their next move. Then Neville woke up and they landed without incident. Neville was taken to hospital but his wife said brain and heart tests didn’t turn up anything that would explain the fainting.

The original version of this story incorrectly identified Neville’s aircraft as a Cessna 150. It was a Cherokee 180.