First-time student pilot labelled a 'hero' for landing plane after Kiwi instructor passed out

Two-thousand feet in the air above Perth, a beginner's flight lesson took a troubling turn.

With Kiwi flight instructor Robert Mollard unconscious, his student is alone and unprepared.

A lesson like no other for Max Sylvester, who'd never flown in a two-seater aircraft.

But under the guidance of air traffic control, Sylvester kept the Cessna 152 in flight with a steely nerve, and a sense of humour.

"I hope they don't think I'm paying for this flight," Sylvester says.

The rookie made several attempts to land, before safely touching down on the tarmac nearly an hour after the ordeal began. Kiwi instructor Mollard was taken to hospital.

Mollard's boss at Air Australia International praised the student who brought him home.

"This kid is, for lack of a better term, what I would call a hero," Chuck McElwee said. "He deserves a medal."

The lesson of a lifetime for a trainee pilot who's well on the way to earning his wings.

Who is Kiwi Robert Mollard?

Mollard is an experienced pilot with more than 600 hours in the air. He's a qualified commercial pilot in Australia and it still isn't clear what went wrong. 

Newshub spoke to his family in the South Island town of Omarama. His dad Trevor is also a pilot, and he said they've spoken to their son in the hospital.

They didn't want to comment on what happened in the air. 

His condition was serious when he was admitted on Saturday, but the hospital says he is now stable.

It is understood he'll be released this week, but for now, he'll remain in hospital, no doubt, grateful to be back on the ground.