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Air Force Capt. Mark Gongol Helps Land Plane After Pilot Heart Attack

Image: Air Force Capt. Mark Gongol Helps Land Plane After Pilot Heart Attack
Undated U.S. Air Force photo of Capt. Mark Gongol.

By    |   Tuesday, 03 Jun 2014 05:37 PM

Air Force Capt. Mark Gongol helped bring a passenger jet in for an emergency landing in Nebraska when crewmembers on a United Airlines Boeing 737 flight from Des Moines to Denver called for help.

Gongol, who flies B1B Lancer bombers, was on his way home with his family on Dec. 30 when an announcement over the plane’s public address system asked if there were any pilots onboard.

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Calls for medical assistance already had been answered and Gongol had noticed the plane’s engines begin to idle and it began to descend.

The captain appeared to be having a heart attack, Gongol told Air Force Space Command Public Affairs.

Gongol assisted the first officer by talking on the radios, assisting with checklists, and looking for anything going wrong.

"She was calm, but you could tell she was a little stressed, who wouldn't be," Gongol told AFSC. "At the beginning, I interrupted her flow of operations, but we figured everything out extremely quickly. She was very impressive."

Gongol supported every decision made by the first officer and other crewmembers.

"I saw nothing but the finest professionalism under pressure out of the flight attendants, the nurses and the first officer," Gongol told AFSC. "Everyone aboard the aircraft remained calm, there is no doubt in my mind this contributed above all else to our successful outcome. In my opinion any military pilot would have done the exact same thing I did."

Linda Alweiss, a registered nurse, attended to the distressed pilot, according to KTLA-TV.

“She did her job,” Alweiss’ husband, Alan, told the station. “She jumped at the opportunity, didn’t hesitate. And she did it at 30,000 feet, knowing that the person who was supposed to be flying the plane was her patient.”

The pilot survived and contacted Gongol and others to thank them.

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Air Force Capt. Mark Gongol helped bring a passenger jet in for an emergency landing in Nebraska when crewmembers on a United Airlines Boeing 737 flight from Des Moines to Denver called for help.
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2014-37-03
Tuesday, 03 Jun 2014 05:37 PM
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