On Monday, 80-year-old Helen Collins and her husband took off together in a small twin-engine plane. The Wisconsin couple had spent hundreds of hours flying together with John piloting and his wife by his side. In an instant, Monday's flight turned into a nightmare when her husband suffered a fatal heart attack and lost consciousness at the controls.
Collins, who doesn't have a pilot's license, took charge of the plane, low on fuel, and began attempting an emergency landing at Cherryland Airport, about 150 miles north of Milwaukee. Friends on the ground made contact and provided guidance and reassurance.
Seven minutes after he was alerted to the situation, pilot Robert Vuksanovic was in the air, serving as a model and escort for Collins. With step-by-step instructions, she landed the aircraft despite another challenge: the right engine was out. The improvised flight lesson from Vuksanovic combined with Collins' familiarity with the controls helped get her to the ground.
The plane bounced hard off the runway and skidded about 100 feet. With minor injuries, Collins made it down safely. Her calm in the crisis and heroic maneuvering were all captured on audio and video recordings.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with