80-Year-Old Woman Lands Aircraft After Pilot Becomes Unconscious

Woman with no pilot’s license manages to land twin-engine Cessna safely.

An 80-year-old woman with no pilot’s license or formal training was forced to take the controls and land a Cessna 414 on Monday evening after her 81-year-old pilot husband experienced a medical emergency and lost consciousness in the air.

The woman declared an emergency around 5:30 p.m. local time while flying the twin-engine Cessna just south of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Local officials say air traffic controllers tried to assist her from the ground, but decided to send up a pilot in another airplane to help her down as she began to run low on fuel.

Witnesses at the scene told a local ABC news station that the women circled Door County Cherryland Airport several times and aborted her first attempt to land after coming in too fast.

After the right engine ran out of fuel and quit, she managed to finally put the aircraft down. According to witnesses, the woman kept the Chancellor on the runway even as it bounced twice, suffered the collapse of the nose gear and proceeded to skid along the runway. The woman suffered only minor injuries in the landing, while her husband was pronounced dead at a local hospital from the medical condition suffered in the air.

Local officials, who said the woman knew very little about piloting an airplane, praised her for the feat.