A student pilot on his first lesson was forced to make an unplanned emergency landing after his Kiwi instructor fell unconscious.
Trainee Max Sylvester took off for a lesson in a Cessna light aircraft from Jandakot airport in Western Australia when he was made aware that his Kiwi instructor, Robert Mollard, would not be able to help.
Radioing air traffic control, the trainee pilot told them of the issue:
"He's leaning over my shoulder, I'm trying to keep him up but he keeps falling down," Sylvester told the controller in audio provided to RNZ. "Do you know how to operate the aeroplane?", the operator asked. "This is my first lesson," the student replied, adding this would be his first landing.
The controller was able to guide the student through the flight and back towards the runway.
"You're doing a really great job. I know this is really stressful. But you're going to do an amazing job and we're going to help you get down to the ground," the controller can be heard saying.
According to Sylvester his instructor from the Air Australia International school remained unconscious and unresponsive, slumped over in the co pilot seat.
With instruction from the ground, Sylvester was remotely guided to the landing strip at Jandakot, where an emergency services were waiting.
He was able to land the plane safely.
The owner of the flying school Chuck McElwee told reporters that he'd never seen an incident like this in his almost 30 years operation.
"It happened the way it was supposed to happen — this is the way we teach them (to land)" albeit remotely, over the radio set of an air traffic tower.
"This good outcome is what you hope for. It just worked out this time." Mr McElwee praised the young pilot, the air traffic controller and remote instructor who "did an exceptional job" to get everyone safely on the ground.
McElwee also praised the Sylvester's wife who had "held it together" from the ground for their three young children who were also present.
The instructor, New Zealander Robert Mollard, was taken to hospital in a stable condition at around 5pm.