Marco resident who landed plane after husband died: 'Don't you have any faith in me?'

This undated photo provided Tuesday, April 3, 2012, by Luke Collins shows his parents, Helen and John Collins. Luke told The Associated Press Tuesday that his 80-year-old mother had little flying experience and knew her husband had died after he fell unconscious at the controls of their small plane, yet she remained calm as she landed the aircraft at a northeastern Wisconsin airport on Monday. (AP Photo/Luke Collins)

This undated photo provided Tuesday, April 3, 2012, by Luke Collins shows his parents, Helen and John Collins. Luke told The Associated Press Tuesday that his 80-year-old mother had little flying experience and knew her husband had died after he fell unconscious at the controls of their small plane, yet she remained calm as she landed the aircraft at a northeastern Wisconsin airport on Monday. (AP Photo/Luke Collins)

This photo provided April 3, 2012, by the Door County Sheriffs Office shows Cessna twin-engine plane that an elderly woman landed with an almost empty fuel tank after her husband fell unconscious at the controls Monday in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. Helen Collins, 80, had some flight training years ago but was not familiar with the controls of the plane, said Keith Kasbohm, director of Cherryland Airport where she landed. Collins' 81-year-old husband, John, was later pronounced dead at a hospital. (AP Photo/Door County Sheriffs Office)

This photo provided April 3, 2012, by the Door County Sheriffs Office shows Cessna twin-engine plane that an elderly woman landed with an almost empty fuel tank after her husband fell unconscious at the controls Monday in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. Helen Collins, 80, had some flight training years ago but was not familiar with the controls of the plane, said Keith Kasbohm, director of Cherryland Airport where she landed. Collins' 81-year-old husband, John, was later pronounced dead at a hospital. (AP Photo/Door County Sheriffs Office)

Video from NBC-2

Though she wasn't quite sure of herself, 80-year-old Helen Collins wanted those watching her to trust she could land a small plane safely after her husband suffered a heart attack and died while flying home Monday.

At one point Collins, a part-time Marco Island resident with minimal flying experience, asked dispatchers at the airport and a wingman pilot: "Don't you have any faith in me?"

Recordings of Collins' landing were released Thursday, three days after her husband John died on their trip back to Sturgeon Bay, Wisc. from Marco Island, and she was forced to take control.

"What she did was so amazing you can't even put it into words," Collins' son Richard said Friday. "There was so much anxiety going on at the time."

After Collins made contact with staff at the Cherryland Airport, pilot Robert Vukasanovic got in another plane and flew up to join her and help talk her down.

"As soon as I join you up on the right hand side of the aircraft, you'll be looking into the sun, so do not look at me," Vuksanovic told her at one point. "You just keep flying, OK?"

"OK, gotcha," Collins responded.

Shortly after, the 80-year-old grew worried.

"Hurry up," she told the pilot.

"I'm coming up right behind you," he reassured her. "You're doing good."

After circling the airport with one engine out of gas, Collins began her descent. But even in those final moments, there was some question as to whether or not she could pull off the landing.

"You're not going to make it," the pilot said. "Don't dive for the runway. Do not dive for the runway."

And then, upon touch down: "We're done. Great job, Helen. Great job."

After landing, Collins was taken to the hospital with a back injury, a broken rib and a concussion. Richard Collins said his mother was released Friday. A funeral for John Collins will be held Tuesday in Sturgeon Bay.

Richard Collins said Friday he had prayed for his mother's safe landing but also was grieving for the loss of his father.

"You're elated that she landed the plane," he said. "Then you went from being just happy to being just devastated. It's tough."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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