By now you’ve heard of Darren Harrison, the 39-year-old interior designer who somehow successfully landed a single-engine Cessna plane en route from the Bahamas after its pilot fell unconscious.
“I’ve got a serious situation here, my pilot has gone incoherent,” Harrison told air-traffic controllers. “I have no idea how to fly the airplane.”
In an exclusive interview with Today show host Savannah Guthrie, the married father-to-be shared the harrowing train of events, including having to pull the plane out of a steep dive with the ocean quickly approaching.
“At that point, I knew if I didn’t react, we would die,” he told Guthrie.
Pulling the incapacitated pilot from his seat, Harrison proceeded to slowly level the plane, then made contact with controller Robert Morgan, who is also a flight instructor.
“He was really calm,” Morgan reflected. “He said, ‘I don’t know how to fly. I don’t know how to stop this thing if I do get on the runway.’”
Eventually, Harrison was able to land the aircraft at Palm Beach International Airport – a nearby site selected because of its long wide, long runways. After coming to a stop, the passenger-turned pilot described his first act:
“I said thank you for everything, and I threw the headset on the dash and said the biggest prayer I’ve ever said in my life. That’s when all the emotions set in.”
Harrison’s first prayers were of thanksgiving to have made it – and for the incapacitated pilot still unconscious behind him on the floor. Although not expected to live, he’s due to be released from the hospital today.
NBC’s Guthrie than asked Harrison, “What enabled you to manage in a crisis a life-or-death emergency and stay so calm?” He replied with one word:
“The hand of God was on that plane,” he said.
“And on you,” Guthrie interjected.
“Yeah, absolutely,” Harrison agreed.
Guthrie went on to say that the heroic-passenger had previously struggled with being a “hot-head” and has been going to church and bible study to work on his temper.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God,” wrote the apostle Paul. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).
Few of us may find ourselves in a situation as tenuous as having to level off a plummeting airplane – but all of us encounter stressful moments from time to time that demand a steady hand.
“If you are at a hard place in life, hesitant to ask for help, God invites you to ask Him so He can meet your need,” said David Jeremiah, the bestselling author and pastor.
Darren Harrison recognized his shortcomings and sought the guidance and perspective of Jesus Christ in his church and Bible study. He couldn’t have picked a better place to go.