"Well, my flight instructor did say I was the best student he'd had," the man joked

By Dave Quinn
September 04, 2019 11:54 AM
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A student pilot in Australia brought new meaning to “fight or flight” on Saturday afternoon.

Max Sylvester, 29, was flying for his first lesson in a two-seater, single-propeller Cessna aircraft — and his third flying lesson overall — when his instructor passed out, leaving him to land the aircraft at Jandakot Airport in western Australia all on his own.

The father of three, whose wife and children were watching from below, immediately called air traffic control for help, according to Australia’s ABC News.

He said that it was just over an hour into his lesson when his instructor collapsed. “He’s leaning over my shoulder, I’m trying to keep him up but he keeps falling down,” Sylvester told air-traffic control, in audio obtained by ABC News.

Incredibly, Sylvester — with the help of the tower — brought the aircraft down in an emergency landing without a scratch.

Max Sylvester - Trainee pilot makes emergency landing during first lesson after instructor falls unconscious
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| Credit: ABC

He had a sense of humor about it too. “Well, my flight instructor did say I was the best student he’d had,” Sylvester joked over the radio.

Afterwards, he told reporters that being diligent about his studies is what helped him pull through.

“I am just a student pilot doing what we’ve been trained to do,” Sylvester said, according to ABC News. “What kept me alive was my study. That definitely saved me. If I hadn’t have studied, we wouldn’t be here — it is as simple as that.”

As for remaining calm in the face of danger, Sylvester said that doesn’t make him an inspiration.

“You just have to deal with the situation that you’ve been thrown in front of and you need to react,” he said. “You got to show your kids that having issues like this, you have to power through them.”

Sylvester’s instructor, New Zealand-born Robert Mollard, was taken to the hospital and is in stable condition, ABC News reported. Sylvester has already visited, the outlet said.