A WOMAN was seriously injured in an ultralight aircraft crash in Spain after she was forced to fly the plane — despite having no flight experience — when her pilot husband lost consciousness, officials said.
The woman suffered burns and multiple contusions, while the pilot died, though it was unclear if that happened before or after the plane crashed near Seville airport in south-western Spain.
An emergency services spokeswoman said the woman “had no notion” of flying and air traffic controllers talked her through the procedure for some 90 minutes before she attempted the emergency landing on Sunday.
In released recordings of their conversation, the controller can be heard reassuring the woman, “You’re going to continue and you’re going to land without any problem, OK?”
A spokeswoman for Spanish air traffic controllers union USCA said the woman was extra lucky because the controller who coached her knew how to fly such planes. She said the woman barely knew how to read a compass and had the added complication that she was flying above the clouds when her husband lost consciousness.
The controller asked her for the plane’s altitude — some 3,000 metres — and told her what to look for on the plane’s compass.
The recordings published by the Diario de Sevilla newspaper were confirmed by USCA.
When the woman saw her husband had lost consciousness she rang a pilot friend who in turn alerted air traffic control, emergency services said.
A helicopter and another light aircraft were dispatched to help guide the woman to the airport.
The woman’s husband died but it was not clear if that happened before or after the crash in an orange grove, three kilometres short of the runway at Seville’s airport.
A hospital spokesman said on Monday the woman suffered multiple injuries but her life was not in danger.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with their job regulations.
The ultralight aircraft had taken off from the city of Trebujena and had been scheduled to land in Coria del Rio, a small town near Seville.
Seville is Spain’s 13th busiest airport. It moved 3.9 million passengers last year, according to AENA’s website.