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Audio recording released from 80-year-old emergency plane landing

Wisconsin authorities released the audio recording of the 80-year-old woman who landed a small plane Monday evening after her husband passed out 2,000 feet in the air, WLUK-TV reported.

As the Cessna twin-engine plane began to run low on gas, Helen Collins, who had little flying experience, took the controls and was guided by a husband and wife team of pilots.

"Hi Helen, this is Cathy," Cathy Vukanovic, one of the pilots who helped guide Collins said during the radio conversation.

"Hi Cathy, hell of a place to be," Collins replied.

Collins appeared to maintain her calm for the 45-minute conversation with the couple and air traffic controllers at a nearby airport. The topic focused mainly on explaining the gears, speed and elevation, the report said.

The couple was coming back from their second home in Marco Island, Fla. for Easter, when John Collins, 81, had a heart attack about seven minutes from landing at Cherryland Airport and had called her to the cockpit before he became unconscious. She had called 911 and that's when everyone came together to help her land the plane.

The pilot who helped was Robert Vuksanovic, who lived just a mile from the airport, said Keith Kasbohm, director of Cherryland Airport. After getting the call from Kasbohm, Vuksanovic jumped in another plane owned by the Collins and flew up to meet the Cessna while instructing the novice on the radio. There was even a few jokes during the conversation WLUK-TV reported.

"OK Kev, go ahead and have them close the road," Vuksanovic said on the recording.

"What do you mean by close the road?" Collins said.

"I was talking to the people on the ground, Helen," Vuksanovic said.

"Don't you have faith in me?" Collins responded.

James Collins, the couple's son, said one engine had completely run out of gas and the other had to be close to running out because it was sputtering. The nose-wheel collapsed upon landing and she skidded down the runway about 1,000 feet, but she worked the rudders to keep the plane straight.

Torry Lautenbach, whose property is next to the airport, watched her land and estimated she circled the airport about 10 times.

"She did a really good job (landing the plane). It was amazing," Lautenbach said. "It took one bad hop and then it came back down and skidded."

Elizabeth Isham Cory, a spokeswoman with the Federal Aviation Administration, said John Collins had a current private pilot's license but couldn't immediately provide any details on how often he needed to get a medical exam. She said pilots can fly until they stop passing medical exams.

The Collins family, of Sturgeon Bay, own a small manufacturing company in Door County, authorities said. John Collins founded C & S Manufacturing in 1962, according to the company's website.

John Collins, 81, was pronounced dead from injuries not related to the landing.

Please click here for more from the WLUK-TV report. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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