I am no pilot, but years ago, I flew very often with a friend who is. We’d often go up in his Cessna 172. I got to know the instrument panel (the “six-pack”), and he’d sometimes let me take the controls in level flight. After many, many flights, I knew what did what (yoke, rudder pedals, throttle, and so on), and what instrument indicated what, and what ATC was telling us over the radio. Even today, on a commercial commuter flight (Beechcraft 1900D, most commonly), I like sitting as far forward as possible, so I can read the instruments.
I never took off, or landed my friend’s Cessna, but after dozens of hours in my friend’s, while he did touch-and-gos and landings, I think I might be able to manage if an experienced pilot at ATC talked me in. Mind, the aircraft might be damaged, and we might be injured, but I think we’d survive if anything went wrong. But without an experienced pilot at ATC talking me in, we’d be toast. I’m sure that that’s the situation that Helen found herself in–familiarity with the operation of the aircraft, and somebody at ATC who could help her in.
Note that my remarks apply only to the Cessna 172–if my commuter flight aboard a Beechcraft 1900D, or anything bigger, goes wrong, I’m not the guy to call.