Thursday, November 20, 2014

Air traffic controller saves pilot's life (with video)

HOUSTON (KHOU/CBS) - A pilot cheated death last weekend when he found himself trapped above the clouds unable to see the ground, forcing him to put his life in the hands of an air traffic controller.

In the cockpit of his small plane, Mark Nelson tried not to panic.

"You can see the instruments," Nelson said. "But I could not even see the propeller, and this is like five feet away. It was that bad.”

Workers at Houston's regional air traffic control could see the problem, and they made the call.

Air traffic controller Hugh McFarland would talk Nelson to the ground through 8,000 feet of clouds.

"There was no airport around within several hundred miles that had visual conditions," McFarland said.

They thought the clouds might break at about 2,000 feet or 1,000, but they didn't.

Pilots have to be specially licensed to fly in those conditions for good reason.

"I saw some homes about 800 feet below me," Nelson said. "It was just, 'Hallelujah!' I mean, really. I only had a few hundred feet to spare. With Hugh's help, I am glad to be here.”

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