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Passenger Safely Lands Single-Engine Plane After Pilot Dies

Aired August 7, 2000 - 1:10 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: A man who had never flown an airplane -- in an airplane before managed to land a single-engine aircraft in Florida, saving the lives of his wife and his children. Henry Anhault and his family were returning from a church retreat in the Bahamas when the pilot of their plane suddenly lost consciousness at the controls and died. Anhault says he had no alternative but to take over.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY ANHAULT, FIRST-TIME PILOT: I knew I would have to set the plane down. I mean, I didn't do no superhero things or anything, I just what I had to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: Anhault landed the plane in Winter Haven, Florida, relying on advice he received over the radio from pilots who were monitoring his flight. Afterward, those pilots talked about what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB GARCIA, PILOT: We were departing Lakeland and headed back here to our home base and we heard a call from Tampa asking us to get off that particular frequency, that they had an emergency. And we heard that there was a mayday over Winterhaven and someone possibly low on fuel that didn't know anything about it.

DAN MCCOLLOUGH, FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR: We train and we think and we train some more, and when something like this happens you don't have time to be nervous.

GARCIA: The outcome, unfortunately, began with a tragedy, that the pilot of the plane died.

MCCOLLOUGH: He knew he had a fuel management problem, and basically he knew he was running out of gas in a tank. They were coming back from the Bahamas, they'd been on that tank for a long time.

GARCIA: When we asked him, What flying experience do you have? and he replied that he had none, then we knew we had a real situation on our hands. MCCOLLOUGH: You know, by the time he switched over to the other tank, they should have had about an hour, two hours worth of fuel in that tank based on the gauge indications he was able to give me while we were talking to him over the radio.

GARCIA: He was flying so low that Tampa Approach was not picking him up on the radar. At one point, he described a big white building with a water tower. Well, we knew where that was and we headed that way. Shortly thereafter, we spotted him.

MCCOLLOUGH: We talked a little bit on the radio, got to know each other, kind of talked about the plan and just kind of went through what we needed to go threw in order to bring him down.

GARCIA: Somewhere during these conversations we found out that there were six people on board. And at that point we thought we had six lives to deal with. We told him where we were and asked him to look out his right window. We said, You see us? OK, we're here with you. We're going to work this out together. He did a great job. He listened to our instructions very well. When that plane came to a stop right side up, no smoke no flames, it was a very powerful moment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Amazing, amazing.

ALLEN: The cause of the original pilot's death isn't known, but that is amazing. You sit here and watch and think, Could I do it? Could I bring that plane down if I had to?

WATERS: Got to have nerves of steel. I don't know too much about flying but I did take flying lessons to know if you come in a little too nose-up, you're going to stall; a little too nose down you dive into the ground, so he had to do it perfectly.

ALLEN: Oh, my.

WATERS: There was very little damage on that plane, you know.

ALLEN: Right.

WATERS: OK, well, we're glad everybody's safe and sound.

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