The plane had just taken off from Sandtoft Airfield some 25 miles away when the pilot fell ill and collapsed, leaving John to take over.
Before passing out, the pilot did manage to make a distress call to alert Humberside's tower of the situation, and two flight instructors were brought in to help guide the plane down.
"[John] didn't know the layout of the aeroplane, he didn't have lights on so he was absolutely flying blind as well," said instructor Roy Murray. "I think he'd flown once before as a passenger but never flown an aeroplane before."
Despite his lack of expertise, John, with the help of his ground crew, managed to land the plane safely after three failed attempts.
"We had to get him to do two to three circuits. The last one was not very good so we told him to go round again and on the fourth one he managed it," Murray told BBC News. "He did a beautiful landing in my opinion...I would not be frightened to fly with him."
The pilot was rushed to a nearby hospital, but passed away shortly thereafter.
[video via BBC]