Flying requires practice. People don’t just wake up one day with the knowledge and skill to fly a plane. But one aspiring pilot might have proved this to be wrong.

Trainee Lands Plane on First Try

After his flight instructor suffered a heart attack and passed out, Max Sylvester, an Australian trainee pilot, was left alone at the controls of the two-seater Cessna. Instead of panicking, he called an air traffic controller for assistance. He was currently at an altitude of 2,000 feet, and initially the controller just made sure he maintained control of the aircraft, keeping it level and traveling at a constant speed.

With calm, collected help talking him through what he needed to do, Max managed to bring the plan back to earth. It took him an hour, but he did it, landing at Jandakot airport in the Perth metro area. You can listen to some of the exchange between Mr. Sylvester and the air traffic controller.

His instructor managed to make it through both situations: the heart attack and the midair crisis. He is fortunate Max was a diligent student and his study “definitely saved” him. Max, either jokingly or seriously, told the ATC that his instructor remarked that he was the best student he’d had. The fact that he saved his life probably means no one will ever unseat him for the title now.

Kudos, Max. I cannot imagine being alone in the cockpit of a plane on day one with no one to help except for a voice over the radio. The minimum training for a private pilot’s license is 40 hours, half of which must be with an instructor. With this excellent of a performance on day one of being solo at the controls, I hope he heads on to a fantastic career as a commercial pilot.