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Passenger lands plane safely after pilot dies

A passenger took the controls of a twin engine plane after the pilot died and managed to land it safely at a Florida airport with five people on board, the Federal Aviation Administration said yesterday.

The drama unfolded on Sunday within minutes of the King Air plane's departure from Marco Island, near Naples, Florida, on a flight to Jackson, Mississippi.

"Shortly after departure the pilot became incapacitated," said Kathleen Bergen, speaking for the FAA. "A passenger was able to take control of the plane, communicate with the air traffic controllers and land the plane safely in Fort Myers (Florida)."

The passenger who took control of the plane had flown single engine aircraft, but was not rated to fly a twin engine King Air, she said.

So, the passenger called an instructor friend in Connecticut who talked him through the 40-minute flight.

The cause of the pilot's death was not disclosed pending an autopsy.

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