Treasure Coast air traffic controller shares how he helped hero pilot

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 3:16 PM EDT
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The first person that a hero pilot came in contact with before landing last week at Palm Beach International Airport was based at the Treasure Coast International Airport in St. Lucie County.

Chip Flores, an air traffic controller with more than a decade of experience, spoke Monday with WPTV about the event that's made headlines across the world.

Flores said he's dealt with many emergencies from the tower before but never a situation quite like this one.

He said he wanted to make sure the passenger, who did not have any previous piloting experience, didn't have too many things to do at one time.

"It's kind of phenomenal he was able to keep the presence of mind to do what he was doing," Flores said. "Looking back at the information I have, when his airplane went into a dive, it took him like another 10 minutes before he was able to call me. So, during that whole time, he was able to stabilize the airplane, got it in control."

Flores said the pilot, Darren Harrison, did a great job keeping the plane lined up with the runway at PBIA.

He added he feels good about the role he played, and that he’s glad the situation turned out the way it did.

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