“Hurry Up”- Grandma Has the Right Stuff

It’s the nightmare scenario. You’re up flying with your husband and suddenly he slumps over the controls. What do you do?

This actually happened to 80 year old Helen Collins yesterday. Her 81 year old husband John was flying their twin engine Cessna when he passed out.  Helen took the controls, she had some flying experience.  But not in this type and not for years. She dialed 911 on her cell phone. 911 got her connected to a flight instructor.

Flight instructor Cathy Vuksanovic,  coached Helen as her husband, Robert, fired up his plane to guide Collins to the runway.

Helen demonstrated heroic calm and Test Pilot  Right Stuff as Bob radioed her.


Robert Vuksanovic: “I’ll be joining up there with you in about two minutes.”

Helen: “Hurry up.”

Bob guided Helen to Door County Cherry Land Airport (SUE/KSUE), Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. After a couple of practice approaches and running out of fuel, Helen brought the Cessna in. Although missing the runway, she put in the grass on the wheels and skidded to a stop. The nose gear collapsed. But any landing you walk away from is a good landing.

Listen to how Helen gets it done.


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