mokee81/iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — A small-aircraft pilot recently got to thank a team of air traffic controllers who helped her land safely last year when her plane’s throttle broke, leaving her stranded in the air.
On Tuesday, the Federal Aviation Administration released dramatic audio from the Feb. 14, 2016, incident.
In the nearly six minutes of edited audio, air traffic controller Mason Braddock and his team could be heard calmly explaining to pilot Cathy Lewan how to land her single-engine Cessna at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Georgia.
Lewan was alone in the plane and had been taking pictures.
“We’re going to touch down and cut power immediately to the airplane,” an air traffic controller says. “Whenever you’re ready, we can set you up for that. Like I said, we’ll have equipment standing by to help you on the runway.”
Lewan, getting emotional, then asks for a favor.
“Would you call my husband for me?” she says. “If you could, ask him to put a prayer chain out to my church and ask the whole church to start praying, and everybody else that’s listening. … Tell him that I love him and call my mother. And I know I’m going to be fine ’cause you’re helping me and the good Lord’s helping me.”
Braddock tells Lewan to give the team her husband’s cellphone number.
“We’ll make sure that he knows that you’re coming in,” he says. “We’re gonna call him. … It’s just gonna be a normal landing. … It’s gonna be fine. … There’s no rush.”
Lewan was able to land the plane safely. During a news conference Tuesday, Lewan met with Braddock as well as the rest of the air traffic controller team that helped her last year.
“They just really, really were there in every way for me,” she said during the news conference. “What I got was my own personal SWAT team — the super, wonderful Atlanta team.”
Braddock and his team from the FAA facility in Peachtree City, including Clay Sutton, Nicole Surunis, Patrick Burrows and Keith Tyus, are expected to receive one of aviation’s highest honors for lifesaving work at a ceremony next week in Las Vegas.
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