Illinois Woman Lands Helicopter With Help of Fiance After Pilot Blacks Out

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One Illinois couple miraculously survived after their helicopter pilot suffered a medical emergency while flying, leaving them to handle the controls. 

Carli McConaughy and Adam Barnett were on a dream vacation in Hawaii when he asked her to marry him. Days after she said yes, they celebrated with their first-ever helicopter ride. They were flying over the breathtaking island of Oahu when the pilot suddenly blacked out. 

“About 25 minutes into the flight, Carli looks back at me and starts pointing to the pilot,” Barnett told Inside Edition. “I look over and the pilot had lost consciousness.” 

The pilot was slumped over the controls, with the helicopter nosediving straight into the ocean.

“She looks back and says, ‘What am I supposed to do?’" Barnett recalled. “I yelled out, ‘Just pull up, pull up!'” 

It worked!

McConaughy grabbed the controls as they were 1,000 feet in the air, holding onto them all the way down until the chopper made a hard landing in shallow water just off the beach. 

Kayakers came to their rescue, as did the Coast Guard. 

Barnett suffered a dislocated wrist while McConaughy's foot was badly injured. 

Four days after the crash, they are back home in Chicago, nursing their injuries but looking forward to a life together.

“I don’t think I’m proud of myself,” McConaughy said. “It’s something anyone would do.” 

The pilot recovered from his medical emergency and is now OK. 


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