IT was the second last day of the annual Southern Cross Gliding Club’s summer camp when pilot Paul Reynolds said he heard the voice of 19-year-old Troy Jenkins come over the radio.
“I had just done my first launch of the day and was taxiing back up the run way when I heard a voice saying “help help” on the radio,” Mr Reynolds said.
“At first I thought it was a joke but I asked the person to identify themselves.
“Troy responded and said that his pilot was slumped over the controls.”
After instructing other club members to call for emergency services, Mr Reynolds took off in his Piper Pawnee light aircraft in search of the plane.
Within five minutes of receiving the distress call Mr Reynolds was able to locate the aircraft over the Red Bend Silos and then, from a distance of three kilometres, instruct Mr Jenkins on how to take control of the four-seater aircraft.
Mr Reynolds said his main priority was to reassure Mr Jenkins and make sure that he was capable of landing the plane if required.
“I knew he (Mr Jenkins) wanted to land as quickly as possible, but I wanted to make sure that he could take control of the plane,” he said.
“I knew the plane had a full tank of fuel so we had about three hours to work with, and despite obviously wanting to land the plane quickly for the pilot’s sake, I needed to make sure that we could get the plane down safely.”
While pilot Derek Neville regained consciousness and safely landed the plane, Mr Reynolds commended the swift actions of Mr Jenkins.
“The whole time he responded to instructions, didn’t panic and was calm,” he said.
“When I got to him he had even managed to start to turn the plane back by himself.
“Hat’s off to him.”
Mr Reynolds has been flying light aircraft for over 20 years and said he has never seen anything like this before.
He flew back to his home in Camden, Sydney yesterday morning after a week of flying in Forbes.