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Heartbreaking audio captured moment elderly woman lands plane after pilot-husband dies during flight

Heartbreaking audio captured moment elderly woman lands plane after pilot-husband dies during flight

She was guided through the landing procedure by another airborne pilot.

When a passenger was flying with her husband to visit their son, she never expected to find herself in the pilot’s seat.

But back in 2012, when her husband, John Collins, suddenly collapsed at the controls of their Cessna, 80-year-old Helen Collins from Wisconsin had to step up and land the plane herself.

Their son, Richard Collins, recalled the event saying his mother told him: 'Dad became unconscious and took off his seatbelt to breathe better' before Helen saw him 'turning grey.'

The elderly woman from Wisconsin called an air control tower to say that 'her husband, the pilot of the aircraft, was having some sort of medical emergency and was unresponsive in the aircraft,' according to a Door County Sheriff's Office report.

Ross Parmly/Unsplash
Ross Parmly/Unsplash

For 90 gruelling minutes, Helen communicated with the Sturgeon Bay airport tower, trying to manage the plane while receiving instructions from the ground and the air.

The situation was a heart-racing one to listen to.

With fuel running low, a Sturgeon Bay pilot advised Helen to circle the airport until he could get airborne to guide her down.

'Robert [Vuksanovic, the pilot in the second plane] got in the air and was flying just off Helen's wing and was consulting her via radio,' according to the report.

'The two aircrafts did several fly-by type manoeuvres as practice runs.'

Moments before landing, she said, 'I don't think I can do this.'

However, after a lot of support and courage, and her right engine cutting out, Helen was able to successfully land the plane.

Rayyu Maldives/Unsplash
Rayyu Maldives/Unsplash

'She bounced pretty hard,' her son recalled, watching from below. 'When she bounced, the plane tilted forward and the landing gear broke.'

Despite the miracle landing, Helen's husband, who was 81, did not survive.

Both Helen and John were taken to the hospital where John was pronounced dead. Their son believes he had a heart attack.

Richard praised his mother, who suffered crushed vertebrae, for her unbelievable bravery and calmness during the ordeal.

'I can't even tell her how to run a computer, let alone land a plane,' Richard added. 'It was a very trying time. I thought I was going to lose them both.'

Collins said his mother had flown in the past, even flying solo, but had never flown the two-engine Cessna and even still, she hadn't piloted in about 30 years.

'Everybody is so proud of her,' Richard expressed as his voice cracked.

Featured Image Credit: BBC / CBS News / YouTube