Darren Harrison is on his way home after a little absence. He’s joined on board the violent aircraft by one other passenger, and the voyage appears to be going well. But then something unexpected happens: Darren finds himself in the pilot seat in the middle of a flight confronting a terrible mission nobody could have predicted the spectacular events of that flight.
The Florida native had climbed on board with little idea of the drama that was about to unfold. He only desired to put his feet up and return to his family. Darren had just returned from a nice vacation in the Bahamas before the dramatic flight. He’s an avid fisherman, so he spent the majority of his vacation on a boat.
The vacation was a refreshing change of pace for someone who usually works as a flooring specialist for an interior design firm in Florida. Apart from his work, Darren was embarking on an exciting new chapter in his life. He and his wife Brittany were about to have their first child; she was in her third trimester while her husband was awake, thus the pregnant mother was getting close to her due date. Overall, it’s safe to conclude that Darren was doing well during that period; his life appeared to be headed in the right direction.
We think he was in pretty good spirits following his flight. When it came time for Darren to leave the Bahamas, he met up with another person at a local airstrip where they would take the flight back home. They weren’t flying on a regular passenger plane; they took their Cessna 208. These planes have been available since the 1980s and come in a variety of designs. Some are used for commercial flights, while others are employed by armed forces all around the world.
The Cessna 208 is a single-engine propeller-driven plane that seats 14 people. It can travel over 200 miles on a single tank of petrol and attain top speeds of 210 miles per hour. These planes, unlike commercial jets, have an operational ceiling of 25,000 feet.
Darren and the other passenger took their seats as the pilot prepped for the upcoming flight to Florida. After completing customary final checks, he powered the single-engine plane and took it into the air over the Bahamas in May of 2022. But the group had no idea what was in store for them.
Everything was proceeding as planned. As we previously stated, Darren was relaxed in the space behind the captain’s chair, gazing out at the blue sky, with his feet up on the seat right in front of him and having removed his shoes, seemingly carefree. The tranquility was quickly broken when the pilot notified Darren and the other passenger that he wasn’t feeling well. The risk of something occurring to the pilot and the impact it would have on the rest of the passengers is something that many people worry about when flying. The pilot squirmed in his cockpit chair.
“Guys, I’ve got to tell you, I don’t feel good,” the pilot said in response to Darren’s inquiry. This was not what anyone wanted to hear from their pilot. “What do we need to do?” Darren inquired swiftly, yet he received no reaction. Only moments before, the pilot had gone out of his chair after conveying his concerns. If this had been a larger plane with a larger crew, the co-pilot would have been present to deal with the problem. Darren and the second passenger, on the other hand, were on their own. Thankfully, the pilot was still sitting erect and hadn’t slumped forward into the controls.
“He’s sitting straight up in his chair,” Darren noticed, but he knew how horrible things had suddenly become. As the soon-to-be parent made his way to the front seat, he was confronted by a terrifying sight out the window: sea surface rapidly engulfed Darren’s area of vision. He was aware that the plane was currently spiraling out of control. “All I saw when I got up to the front was water out the right window, and I knew it was coming quickly,” Darren described. That was the kind of moment that would not be out of place in a Hollywood action film. Despite this, the scene was as genuine as it gets.
Upon appraising the scenario, Darren had to make a critical decision: accept his fate and prepare for a crash landing in the water or intervene. The expectant father had everything to live for, including his pregnant wife at home. So, he approached the pilot’s seat and took a look at the controls. He needed to move quickly if he wanted to get out of this alive.
“I realized that we were now in a pretty rapid drop,” Darren said. He slides his arm carefully past the prone captain, getting closer to the control stick. Then, he leaned across the pilot’s body and seized control of the plane, slowly pulling back on the stick and turning.
Once he had control, he decided to drag the stick back towards him while still going to the right. Although he lacked piloting expertise, his experience as a fishing enthusiast influenced his thoughts. Fortunately, Darren’s slower approach pulled the plane out of the dive and into a more stable position. The hard job, on the other hand, was far from over, with the pilot still asleep.
He and the other passenger took him from the chair to the back of the plane. At this moment, Darren may finally sit at the controls without being hindered. He served as the de facto pilot, but this troubling development was not the end of his issues.
Another problem soon emerged: understanding that he had to contact someone at Air Traffic Control, Darren snatched the captain’s headset. Nevertheless, as he put it on, he followed the bee and saw that the connection cord on the bottom was unraveling. No amount of tweaking would help. How would he summon assistance? The plug had come loose from the end of the headphones.
“Thus, I no longer have a headset to use,” Darren said. “So I turn to the guy next to me and tell him I’m going to need your headphones.” The second passenger is clutching it. He then sends the critical piece of equipment to Darren, who contacts Fort Pierce Tower, which is part of Florida’s Treasure Coast International Airport.
In case you were wondering, Darren doesn’t waste any time emphasizing the importance of his situation. “I’ve got a serious dilemma here,” he tells the Florida Tower. Following that, the person on the other end of the line wants to know where the airplane is. “I’m not sure where I am, but I see a little airport in the state of Florida.”
While a tower can pinpoint the plane’s location, there are others who can do something vital: they instruct them on how to fly to Cessna 208 down on the ground in Fort Pierce. The issue is taken over by supervisor Justin Boyle and air traffic controller Christopher Flores.
They all encourage Darren to gradually lower the plane’s height, which will give them a better chance of finding it. “Can you drop the 5000 and still maintain?” they asked. “I can try,” Darren said. “I’ll work on it.” Darren agrees, and the result is a breakthrough: Joshua Summers, an air traffic control worker in Palm Beach, notices the plane on radar. It’s only 20 miles from Boca Raton Airport.
The improvised pilot is still not out of the woods. Darren is now connected to the Palm Beach County Air Traffic Control crew via Fort Pierce Tower. They, in turn, contact certified flying instructor Robert Morgan, who may be able to assist. He had to be summoned from his break to rejoin the group. Robert is no stranger to Cessna aircraft; he spent a lot of time with them, so you can see why he’s drawn in. There’s just one problem: he’s not as comfortable with the plane that Darren is now piloting. Nonetheless, he begins to speak.
Robert intends to take Darren directly to the Palm Beach International Airport. Boca Raton is closer to his location, but its runway is smaller. So, following team commands, Darren arrives at the airstrip after listening to Robert the entire time. He’s been given a full briefing on how to properly land the Cessna 208, and it pays off when an unbelievable landing.
They make a clean landing on the tarmac. The final stretch proved to be the most heart-pounding portion of Robert’s involvement in this story. During that spell, the airplane suddenly vanished from his equipment, which worried him. To elaborate, the instructor communicated with the Federal Aviation Administration via medium. “I was kind of like, oh, what do I do now?” Robert explained. “So I’m just like, hey, I don’t see you on my radar anymore. I’m just checking in to see if you’re still there. Are you still hearing me?”
“I’m on the ground now,” Darren said. “What exactly do you want me to do?” Darren even had an idea. “I softly fell at the brakes as I’m driving down the runway, and strangely, I felt so comfortable with it,” Darren said in an interview. “Well, I’m feeling fairly good in the brakes and everything. I radioed the guy, ‘Do you want me to exit the runway so I can clear this thing? Perhaps they didn’t see it coming.’ I said thank you for everything and tossed the headset on the dash and shouted the largest prayer I’ve ever done in my life,” Darren added.
Bar in The Landing in Florida, the injured pilot was transferred to a local medical facility. It was a thankful prayer, but the last, most powerful part was for the guy in the back, because Darren knew it wasn’t a good scenario. The initial diagnosis was pretty dismal; doctors didn’t think he’d make it. But the other passenger proved them all wrong after an unexpected recovery. He was scheduled to be discharged later that month.
Meanwhile, Darren discussed his decision not to contact his wife Brittany until the plane was grounded. “Everyone asked me like, ‘Well, what if you crashed and died and you didn’t get a chance to tell your wife you loved her? You told today you could have at least called her, reached out to her, you had the opportunity.’ I knew in my heart that I wasn’t going to die. It never occurred to me to call and say goodbye to my wife.” Hearing Brittany’s voice was one of the most liberating experiences for him, since he knew he was protected when they communicated.
Fortunately, Darren’s bold decision was ultimately validated. At the end of the day, the instructor said, “Darren, on the other hand, believed that the supernatural intervention was partly an influence on his survival in that situation.”
How did he manage to stay together? How did he get it out? “It’s the hand of God that was on that airliner because that’s the only thing he can think of. There’s no other way to explain it.”