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Co-Pilot Stops Jetliner Safely After Captain Is Stricken

November 23, 1987|Associated Press

NEWARK, N.J. — An American Airlines pilot suffered a fatal heart attack while landing a jumbo jet with 94 people aboard, but the co-pilot took the controls and brought the plane safely to a stop, the airline said Sunday.

Capt. Don L. Ely, 51, was stricken Saturday night as the DC-10 was landing at Newark International Airport, American Airlines spokesman Lee Elsesser said.

It was not clear whether co-pilot Tom Meeker landed the plane or took the controls when the craft was on the ground.

Meeker told airport police that Ely slumped over the controls while the plane was about 50 feet above the runway and that Meeker landed and taxied the plane to the terminal, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said.

Tells of Pilot Landing Jet

However, Meeker told the airline that he took control of the jet while it was speeding down the runway after Ely had landed the plane, Elsesser said.

None of the 10 other crew members or 83 passengers aboard Flight 612 from Chicago were injured, Elsesser said.

Bergen said that it would have been difficult for the co-pilot to taxi to the terminal because many of the controls for that procedure are located in front of the pilot.

Ely died about an hour later, at 12:16 a.m. Sunday, at Elizabeth General Medical Center after attempts to revive him at the airport and in the emergency room failed, hospital spokesman Douglas Harris said.

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