An elderly woman took control of a small plane from her unconscious husband and landed it on a runway at a small northeastern Wisconsin airport yesterday—and the plane was dangerously low on fuel at the time. Helen Collins, 80, had some flight training years ago but was not familiar with the controls of the Cessna twin-engine plane she took over when her husband passed out, says Keith Kasbohm, director of Cherryland Airport near Sturgeon Bay. Her husband was later pronounced dead.
Another pilot took to the skies to guide Collins to the ground after she called 911 from the Cessna, but she had to land the aircraft herself. "She was on her last attempt to get lined up with the runway," Kasbohm said. "She reported one engine was sputtering on that last attempt to land. We were all watching and knew she had to do it." Kasbohm described Collins as "cool, calm, and collected on the radio" as the aircraft made a hard landing and skidded about 1,000 feet before coming to rest. (Read more Helen Collins stories.)