Video shows novice taking charge of an aircraft mid-flight and landing it

  • Pilot Nick Cyganski allowed his friend to land his aircraft with no experience
  • The friend, Connor, has to figure out what each of the dials mean mid-flight
  • He somehow manages to land the plane safely… with almost no help at all

It’s a classic Hollywood scene – the hero or heroine saves the day by taking over control in the cockpit during a troubled flight and landing the plane.

But could someone who has never flown a plane actually learn on the job without any direction? A pilot took his friend to the skies to find out and filmed the nail-biting experience.

Nick Cyganski, a licensed pilot from Massachusetts, blindfolded his friend Connor, who had never flown a plane before, and flew him up into the skies in a light aircraft, then left him to land it.

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Nick Cyganski (right), a licensed pilot, took his blindfolded friend Connor (left), who had never flown a plane before, up into the skies and left him to land the aircraft 

In the video, a Friendly Skies Film production uploaded to YouTube, Connor is seen attempting to work out the controls and dials in the cockpit before bringing the plane into the airport.

As the flight gets under way, Connor laughs while still blindfolded and asks his friend if they are in the air yet.

Then, once he removes the scarf over his eyes, he looks around at the dashboard in bewilderment. 

He then takes the yoke and tests how the plane responds, saying: ‘Let’s see what going right is like… Oh my god, that is incredible, oh my god, I am in a plane!’ 

In what must be a terrifying ordeal, Connor then attempts to decipher what all of the dials do on the dashboard. 

He displays a knowledge that most members of the general public would share when it comes to flying a plane, claiming to know little about what air speed means and seeming delighted when he recognises that one dial is a compass.


As the flight gets under way, Connor is seen removing his blindfold 


Once he removes the scarf over his eyes, Connor looks around at the dashboard in bewilderment 

Gradually, he works out that the GPS navigation system shows the airport he should be heading for and redirects the plane. 

Then he heads towards the runway, mumbling concerns about crashing into the surrounding trees. 

There is a lump in the throat a few moments before the plane reaches the tarmac though, when Connor realises he hasn’t worked out where the brake is, but he eventually works out the system and lands the aircraft without a hitch.

The co-pilot had his hands on the controls at all times, though – just in case.

When he realises that he has completed the task safely, Connor giggles nervously and later tells the camera: ‘It was crazy and my heart was racing, [but] it was so cool.

‘The shock of adrenaline is still running through me though.’


Connor takes the yoke and tries to learn how the plane responds by testing it out



In what must seem a terrifying ordeal, Connor then attempts to decipher what all of the dials do on the dashboard

While the video is very impressive, the plane that’s being landed is far less complex than an airliner.

Airline pilot and author of Cockpit Confidential, Patrick Smith, says that landing a commercial airliner from cruising height would be impossible for a novice.

In fact, he said, the outcome would likely be catastrophic even for someone who has flown four-seaters or studied a jetliner’s systems and controls on a desktop simulator.

He wrote in his best-seller: ‘The scenario most people envision is the one where, droning along at cruise altitude, the crew suddenly falls ill, and only a brave passenger can save the day. 

‘He’ll strap himself in, and with the smooth coaching of an unseen voice over the radio, try to bring her down. For somebody without any prior training, the chance of success in this scenario is exactly zero. 

‘This person would have to be talked from 35,000 feet all the way to the point where an automatic approach could commence, complete with any number of turns, descents, decelerations, and configuration changes (appropriately setting the flaps, slats, and landing gear). 

‘I reckon that would be about as easy as dictating organ-transplant surgery over the telephone to somebody who has never held a scalpel. I doubt that the average passenger could even find the correct microphone button with which to call for help.’ 


Gradually, Connor works out that the GPS navigation system shows the airport he should be heading for and redirects the plane  towards the runway 


Connor has plenty of concerns about crashing into the trees surrounding the airport 


Connor eventually works out the system and lands the aircraft without a hitch 


When he realises that he has completed the task safely, Connor giggles nervously

Another commercial pilot, an airline captain who prefers to remain anonymous, agrees with Smith that an inexperienced pilot would stand very little chance of landing a jetliner.

After watching the clip he told MailOnline Travel: ‘Could something similar happen in an airliner? Definitely not. 

‘Firstly the controls, whilst similar, are much more complex. Secondly the physical handling task in a modern swept-wing jet is far more difficult than in a small and simple training aircraft, which is designed to be easy to fly intuitively with good speed stability. 

‘If the autopilot was engaged then a novice would stand a better chance of landing the aircraft using automatic landing, but only under the direction of a qualified person – the autopilot controls are far from intuitive.

‘Getting help over the radio would be the best bet in this scenario but the radio controls are not straightforward and would require some prior knowledge to be operated successfully. 

‘If possible getting a headset on and finding the transmit switch (labelled “Mic”) and calling up Air Traffic Control saying “what button should I press?” would be a good start – another pilot in a nearby aircraft might be able to hear and assist with initial advice but only if he or she was flying a similar type or aircraft. 

‘All in all the chances of success would be slim. The moral of the story? Be nice to your pilot – and make sure they don’t have the fish.’ 

He added, though, that Connor did very well. 

He said: ‘The person in the “experiment” did extremely well – his ability to deduce what each of the instruments was telling him was excellent. Similarly his ability to manoeuvre the aircraft towards final approach at an airfield was uncanny, albeit in very good weather conditions. 

‘My past experience as a flying instructor taking up novice flyers is that they tend to struggle with lining an aircraft up on a runway at the first, second or even third attempt without significant support from their tutor. Based on this I would describe his performance as exceptional – perhaps he should look for a career change and become a professional pilot.’ 

COULD A NOVICE REALLY LAND A COMMERCIAL AIRLINER? THE EXPERTS SAY IT’S VERY UNLIKELY 

Airline pilot Patrick Smith wrote in his book Cockpit Confidential that flying jetliners is definitely not something a novice can learn on the job.

He explained: ‘There’s a ladder to this. Do you mean somebody who knows nothing at all about flying? How about a private pilot who has flown four-seaters, or a desktop simulator buff who has studied a jetliner’s systems and controls?

‘The outcome in all cases is liable to be a catastrophe, but some would fare better than others.

‘It depends too on the meaning of “land.” Do you mean from just a few hundred feet over the ground, in ideal weather, with the plane stabilized and pointed toward the runway, with someone talking you through it?

‘Or do you mean the whole, full-blown arrival, from cruising altitude to touchdown?

‘The scenario most people envision is the one where only a brave passenger can save the day – he’ll strap himself in, and with the smooth coaching of an unseen voice over the radio, try to bring her down.

‘For somebody without any prior training, the chance of success in this scenario is exactly zero.

‘This person would have to be talked from 35,000 feet all the way to the point where an automatic approach could commence, complete with any number of turns, descents, decelerations, and configuration changes (appropriately setting the flaps, slats, and landing gear).

‘I doubt that the average passenger could even find the correct microphone button with which to call for help.’

An anonymous commercial airline captain agreed, telling MailOnline Travel that landing a light aircraft as novice is one thing, but landing a jetliner is another matter altogether.

He said: ‘Firstly the controls, whilst similar, are much more complex. Secondly the physical handling task in a modern swept-wing jet is far more difficult than in a small and simple training aircraft, which is designed to be easy to fly intuitively with good speed stability.

‘If the autopilot was engaged then a novice would stand a better chance of landing the aircraft using automatic landing, but only under the direction of a qualified person – the autopilot controls are far from intuitive.

‘Getting help over the radio would be the best bet in this scenario but the radio controls are not straightforward and would require some prior knowledge to be operated successfully.

‘If possible getting a headset on and finding the transmit switch (labelled “Mic”) and calling up Air Traffic Control saying “what button should I press?” would be a good start – another pilot in a nearby aircraft might be able to hear and assist with initial advice but only if he or she was flying a similar type or aircraft.

‘All in all the chances of success would be slim. The moral of the story? Be nice to your pilot – and make sure they don’t have the fish.’ 








Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

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