Praise for air passenger in crisis landing

A MAN was publicly praised yesterday for his bravery in landing a light aircraft after the pilot died at the controls.

Dr Lawrence Addicott, the South Glamorgan coroner, said bringing back the aircraft deserved a commendation, particularly as the incident, at 2,500ft happened over a built-up area of South Wales.

He also praised the professionalism of an air traffic controller, Colin Eaton, and a pilot instructor, Robert Legge, 26, who flew alongside Alan Anderson and helped talk him down at Cardiff airport after a 20-minute ordeal.

‘There should be some commendation given to Mr Anderson for being able to return his aircraft safely because he had no previous experience. The other people who were able to instruct him in the safe return of the aircraft should also be commended and publicly recognised.’

Mr Anderson, 28, had taken off with his prospective father-in-law, Les Rhoades, for a flight over Swansea last March, the second time he had flown as a passenger in the Rallye Minerva.

Mr Anderson said: ‘Les was chatting away and pointing out different areas to me. He said, ‘You have never been through a cloud before, let’s go and chase a cloud’. Then Les said, ‘Oh, we’re a little low’. At the same moment he slumped forward.’

Mr Anderson said he thought that the pilot, a practical joker, was pretending. He remembered saying: ‘Oh come on Les, I’m getting scared.’

He then realised Mr Rhoades was unconscious. Mr Anderson swapped his own headset for the pilot’s so that he could alert air traffic controllers.

The coroner recorded a verdict of death from natural causes.

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