A young pilot was praised today after he was reportedly forced to fight off an 82-year-old missionary in mid-air before safely landing the small aircraft in Australia.
James Chandler, 23, was flying from Sydney to Cowra in a single-engine aeroplane when Les Nixon, a Christian missionary and an experienced pilot with 50 years experience, allegedly grabbed the controls of the four-seated Duchess light aircraft, before switching off fuel lines and pushing control buttons.
After grappling with the missionary, Mr Chandler, who has been flying for two years, was forced to make an emergency landing in an open field near Oberon, west of the Blue Mountains on Monday afternoon.
Basair Aviation College's managing director David Trevelyan praised Mr Chandler.
"He did an excellent job in an amazingly difficult scenario," he said, speaking to Australia's 9news.
Phil Lamb, Mr Nixon’s friend of 40 years expressed his complete surprise at events.
Speaking to Daily Mail Australia, he said: “I can’t even imagine what would have happened in that plane. It certainly comes as a surprise”.
“It would have been very out of character for him to do anything that wasn’t professional.”
Mr Nixon suffered head and facial injuries in the scuffle and was taken to nearby Westmead Hospital, where he is recovering from his injuries.
Although local police have spoken with Mr Chandler, they are waiting to speak to Mr Nixon to determine what exactly happened.
Australia’s 9News reports Mr Nixon has flown to isolated parts of the country as part of the Christian outreach program Australia’s Outback Patrol, which he presents with his wife, Martha.Reuse content