Woman Lands Plane Husband Dies

April 5, 2012 by staff 

Woman Lands Plane Husband Dies, An 80-year-old woman with no flying experience took the controls of a small airplane after her pilot husband died during the flight, officials in Wisconsin said on Wednesday. She suffered minor injuries during the crash-landing.

The incident began just before 5 p.m. local time on Monday when 81-year-old John Collins and 80-year-old Helen Collins were flying from Marco Island in Florida to Sturgeon Bay in Wisconsin, where the couple is from. They had earlier landed in Rome, Georgia, to refuel the aircraft.

John had not been feeling well since Thursday last week but refused to let his pilot son James fly him home. “James is a pilot and wanted to fly John and Helen back to Door County since he knew John was not feeling well,” officer Darron Smith wrote in a deputy report. “John told James he did not want him flying him and Helen back and would not let him go.”

The couple left Florida at around 9 a.m. local time on Monday and landed in Rome, Georgia to refuel before beginning a direct flight to Door County in Wisconsin. But during the last portion of the flight to Sturgeon Bay, John unbuckled his seat belt before collapsing and becoming unconscious.

“A female was reporting that her husband, the pilot of the aircraft, was having some sort of medical emergency and was unresponsive in the aircraft,” officer Scott Walker wrote in his deputy report. “The female was not a pilot and was now flying the aircraft.”

About 5 to 6 miles (8 to 9 kilometers) south of Sturgeon Bay and at an altitude of approximately 2,300 feet (701 meters), Helen quickly took the controls of the white twin-engine Cessna 414A. Emergency services responded to both Cherryland Airport in Door County and Austin Straubel Airport in Brown County, where an emergency landing could also be facilitated if necessary.

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