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Passenger-landing pilot is dead
A pilot who fell ill at the controls, leaving a passenger who had never flown a plane before to land the aircraft, has died.
Emergency services gathered at Humberside Airport, north Lincolnshire, as darkness fell yesterday evening after the passenger needed the help of two instructors on the ground to guide the aircraft down safely.
Humberside Police confirmed the pilot died last night. The passenger who took over was unhurt.
Humberside Police said: "The pilot of the light aircraft who became incapacitated while flying back to Sandtoft airfield during the evening of Tuesday October 8, resulting in an emergency landing at Humberside Airport, was sadly pronounced dead last night.
"Police are not treating the death as suspicious and, as such, a file will be prepared for the coroner in order to establish what led to the death of the pilot by way of an inquest.
"Formal ID of the pilot is likely to take place later today."
Sandtoft is a small airfield near Doncaster. It is thought the pair, who have not been named, were on a flight training day.
The alert caused a major response from the emergency services.
"Humberside International Airport put into operation their emergency plan," an airport spokesman said.
"The passenger flew over the airport a couple of times and then was talked down by two flight instructors, and the emergency services were waiting for them when he landed safely."
Although the landing was described as "heavy", it was said to be normal.
Some witnesses described the plane bumping on the runway and sparks coming off the front of it.
Roy Murray, one of the flight instructors who helped the passenger land the plane, told the BBC the passenger had no flying experience and did a "remarkable job".
He said the passenger made quite a good landing in the circumstances, considering he had never flown a plane before and was "flying blind".
"It's a fantastic feeling, knowing I have achieved something and probably saved somebody's life," Mr Murray said.
"I think without any sort of talk-down he would have just gone into the ground and that would have been the end of it."
Moments before the pilot fell unconscious, a mayday call was sent and the emergency response was declared on the ground.
According to the Grimsby Telegraph, Mr Murray was at home when he received a call alerting him to the crisis.
The instructor with the Frank Murray Flying School rushed to the airport's control centre, from where he calmed the passenger over the radio.
He told the newspaper: "We started in the radar room to guide him to the airport. It took him four or five attempts to land the plane, as we had to use different runways because of the failing light."