Woman, 80, Lands Plane After Husband's Collapse
An 80-year-old woman with no flying experience took over the controls after her pilot husband's fatal collapse, landing their twin-engine plane as it was running out of fuel, the airport manager in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, said.
"She was remarkable on the radio," Keith Kasbohm of the Door County Cherryland Airport said of Monday's incident. "She kept her composure and sounded like she had been a pilot for years. She knew what to do when they told her 'flaps down, increase the throttle, increase the trim.' She was doing it well."
Helen Collins and her husband, John, were both taken to the hospital. He was pronounced dead, while she was held for observation, Kasbohm said.
The couple had flown their twin-engine Cessna from Georgia to their home in Sturgeon Bay, in northeast Wisconsin, before the pilot was stricken.
Helen Collins took the controls and radioed the airport and was told to circle while a local pilot was called for help. The pilot took off in his own plane to guide her down, Kasbohm said.
"The pilot in the other airplane kept telling her, 'You're doing great,'" Kasbohm said.
After two failed passes, Collins radioed that one of her engines was sputtering and losing power as her fuel supply dwindled.
She made it on the third try.
"She bounced the plane about 35 feet and the nose gear collapsed on the second impact," Kasbohm said. "She skidded and came to rest on the runway.