Australian pilot 'blacks out' for 55 minutes while his plane flew itself for 250km

May 29 2011

A trainee pilot sat unconscious for 55 minutes while his plane flew itself for 250km over South Australia. An investigation into the incident and subsequent report released this week by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau revealed that the young trainee woke to discover he had overshot Parafield Airport near Adelaide and was heading out to sea.

According to the report, the 20 year old pilot left Mildura, Victoria on December 27, 2010 where mid flight he stated that the sun was directly in his eyes and he fely 'hot and sweaty'. He decided to climb to 1980m in an attempt to cool the cabin and blacked out soon after.

The report states that he regained consciousness about 55 minutes later over the water uncertain of his position. The Tobago single-engine plane had missed Parafield completely and was on its way out to the open waters of the Great Australian Bight 

The aircraft appeared on air traffic control radar at 3.30pm outside controlled airspace to the northeast of Adelaide. Air traffic control tried several times to contact the man by radio, but their calls went unanswered. The pilot finally responded at 4.35pm and was guided back to Parafield Airfield with about 1 hour fuel remaining. The man has been suspended from flying.


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