Passenger Takes Over For Dying Pilot...

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Glider Training Helps

Luck and some long-dormant flying skills helped two passengers aboard a twin-engine (formerly Rockwell) "Jetprop Commander" (a 695A per the registration database) survive a crash landing after the pilot became incapacitated shortly after takeoff from North Las Vegas Airport on Thursday morning. Gerry Garapich had a few lessons in a glider 20 years ago, but when his friend Doug Reichardt lost consciousness at the controls, he was able to turn off the autopilot and guide the airplane back to the airport for a relatively safe landing. He hit the dirt short of the runway, with the gear still up. But that might compare favorably to a gear-up runway landing with sparks and fire. Garapich and his fellow passenger were taken to the hospital but were not seriously hurt. The pilot died, apparently from a heart attack.