PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Weeks after passing out midflight, forcing a passenger to land his plane, a Florida pilot is thanking all those involved for saving his life.
Kenneth Allen was in the cockpit on May 10 when he suffered a medical emergency, forcing one of the passengers on board the flight to land the plane, despite having no prior flying experience.
Allen has been a pilot since 1988 and a flight instructor since 2016, WPTV reported. He was flying the single-engine Cessna 208, heading for Fort Pierce, and was about 60 miles offshore when he said he could feel something was wrong.
“My head was pounding and I was seeing some little blue lights shining through, sparkling through there. And they asked me, ‘What does that mean?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, I got a really bad headache,” Allen said at a news conference Thursday, WPBF reported.
Allen was rushed to the hospital after landing. Doctors at the news conference said that Allen had suffered from a life-threatening aortic dissection.
“Most patients with this diagnosis unfortunately won’t make it to the hospital,” said Dr. Nishant Patel, who performed Allen’s lifesaving surgery, WPTV reported. “Every hour that you have a type A dissection, there’s a 1 to 3% increased risk of passing away.”
The surgery that saved Allen’s life took 9 hours, WPEC reported.
Also on board the plane was Allen’s friend, Russ Franck and Darren Harrison. Franck and Harrison worked together to move the unconscious Allen out of the pilot’s seat and took over flying the plane, WPBF reported.
On the ground, air traffic controller Robert Morgan was credited with helping to guide Harrison, helping him to land the plane safely.
Allen started the press conference by saying simply, “When I say I’m glad to be here, I’m really glad to be here,” WPEC reported.
Allen also took time to thank the doctor who saved his life, saying, “You’re my hero,” while also taking time to thank the EMS crew and other medical professionals who helped in his care, WPBF reported.
Allen is expected to make a full recovery and said he feels “pretty good,” WPTV reported.