Stawell’s Jayden Dignan thought he was stranded at the USA’s Charelston airport for two days when a cargo plane crashed, causing the airport to close and all flights to be cancelled for 48 hours.
But a “random” pilot at the airport’s front desk offered to help Mr Dignan.
“I went to the front desk to try and sort out what to do,” he said.
“There was a pilot who needed to be at Boston airport, but he offered to drive me and someone else to Pittsburgh on the way.”
Mr Dignan is undertaking an engineering degree at the West Virginia University Institute of Technology and was attempting to travel home when his plans were thrown up in the air.
“Everyone at the airport was panicking and annoyed,” he said.
“But the pilot’s help was such a relief, I just wanted to get home.”
The pilot had already hired a car, but once he had seen the extra personnel and luggage he needed to transport, he hired a larger vehicle.
From Pittsburgh, Mr Dignan caught a connecting flight to Phoenix airport and was then transported to Los Angeles.
“At this point I was pretty tired,” he said.
“I couldn’t contact home either because it was pretty late in Australia.”
Mr Dignan then boarded a flight to Sydney and landed in Melbourne on Sunday.
“I was so relieved when I landed in Melbourne,” he said.
“I was grumpy, tired and just sick of everything that had happened.”
Mr Dignan was grateful for the pilot’s help and said it was great to see a stranger could perform such a deed.
“It could have taken me another two days to get home otherwise,” he said.
“I want to thank him so much, it was an incredible thing to do and it made everything a lot better and easier.”
Mr Dignan’s mother Tania said she did not sleep well after she learned about the disaster at Charleston airport.
“I knew it would be 10 hours before I knew what was going on,” she said.
“I was worrying all night how he was going to get home.
“But he is here with us, safe and well and that is what matters.”
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