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Monday, 7 August, 2000, 16:59 GMT 17:59 UK
Man saves family in air nightmare
Henry Anhalt and son Joseph
Henry Anhalt holds his two-year old son Joseph
An American man who never had any flying lessons successfully landed a light plane in Florida with his family on board after the pilot had passed out at the controls.

Henry Anhalt flew the single-engine Piper to an airport in Winter Haven, guided by a flight instructor who gave him directions by radio.

Mr Anhalt made a mayday call on Saturday, saying he needed help landing the plane after the pilot, Kristopher Pearce, had lost consciousness.

Mr Anhalt, his wife and three children were returning from a church gathering in the Bahamas.

Plane involved in drama
The plane rests on its side after the dramatic landing
The pilot was later pronounced dead, but the cause of death was not immediately known.

The plane was spotted by Dan McCullough, a part-time instructor who was flying in the area giving a lesson, the Associated Press reported.

Mr McCullough said Mr Anhalt "was real calm and was able to give me directions about the instruments".

First Mr Anhalt practised keeping the plane steady, with his wife and three sons buckled up in the passenger seats behind him.

"I just gave him directions how to get it over the runway and then to cut the engine," Mr McCullough was quoted as saying.

Bumpy landing

"I had to keep him level. If he came in too steep, he'd dive into the ground. If he came in too far back, he'd stall."

Thirty minutes after taking the controls, Mr Anhalt landed at Winter Haven.

The plane struck a runway hard, bounced up and touched down again, then turned sharply across a grassy strip before halting on an adjacent runway.

The plane had minimal damage, police said.

Rob Garcia, who was flying with Mr McCullough at the time, said Mr Anhalt "couldn't have done much better if he had kept it in the middle of the runway".

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