The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) today recognized Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Air Traffic Controller Robert Morgan with its Above and Beyond Award for Heroic Achievement.
On May 10, 2022, Morgan was on duty at Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) when a passenger onboard a Cessna 208 Caravan contacted the tower to report the plane’s pilot had suffered a debilitating medical issue during the return flight from the Bahamas.
“I’ve got a serious situation here,” said the passenger, later identified as Darren Harrison.
“My pilot has gone incoherent [and] I have no idea how to fly the airplane.”
A pilot and flight instructor with approximately 1,200 flight hours – but zero time in the Caravan – Morgan referenced a photo of the single-engine turboprop’s flight deck to help guide the passenger’s operation of the aircraft as it approached the Florida coast.
Following Morgan’s instructions, Harrison safely maneuvered toward PBI, descended toward the runway and made a safe landing.
“Robert Morgan’s quick-thinking, professionalism, situational awareness and calm demeanor were instrumental in successfully managing a critical emergency situation, saving all three people onboard from injury and allowing the incapacitated pilot to receive timely medical care,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen.
“For his actions that day, we are pleased to present Robert with our 2022 NBAA Above and Beyond Award.”
The NBAA Above and Beyond Award for Heroic Achievement recognizes individuals whose substantial actions avoided injury, loss of life or catastrophic business aircraft damage.
The award was created by the NBAA Safety Committee in 2020 to emphasize the importance of “stick-and-rudder” flying skills as business aircraft flight decks become increasingly automated.
Bolen presented this year’s award during the NBAA National Safety Forum, a series of discussions and presentations taking place during the 2022 NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE) to help business aviation operators gain insights that will help prevent accidents and strengthen their organization’s safety posture.