After decades, Maverick is making a return to the big screen, but there’s another top gun who’s goosed our interest in death defying aviation. Like a scene out of a classic air travel nightmare, the pilot of a small plane said he didn’t feel well and then slumped over his controls. That’s when a passenger named Darren Harrison pulled him back, got on a call with air traffic control and said, “I’ve got a serious situation here. My pilot has gone incoherent. I have no idea how to fly the airplane.” Robert Morgan, an air traffic controller at Palm Beach International Airport, was notified that there was a problem, and he got on the radio with Harrison. He advised the passenger turned pilot to “push forward on the controls and descend at a very slow rate.” That’s about the time the average person would be sweating like Ted Striker. I don’t even think I could get my tray table in the upright position under that kind of stress. But somehow, with Morgan’s help, Harrison managed to land the plane safely. (The obvious lesson here is that flying a plane is not that hard and the best way to learn is by doing. Darren Harrison literally learned to fly on the fly.)

+ “Morgan guided the passenger through a long, stable final approach. He described what the runway was going to look like as the plane descended. Once the aircraft was over the runway, Morgan explained to the passenger how to keep the nose barely off the ground until the main gear touchdown. The passenger did not know how to stop the plane, so the controller instructed the pilot how to brake and adjust levers.” Miracle in the Air: Air Traffic Controllers Guide Passenger to Land Plane Safely.

+ Tom Petty predicted this moment. “I’m learning to fly / But I ain’t got wings / Coming down / Is the hardest thing.”