04/25/2012 08:13 EDT | Updated 06/25/2012 05:12 EDT

Pilots' spouses learn to land planes safely

A course being offered at a small airport near Winnipeg is teaching the spouses and partners of small-craft pilots how to land those planes in emergencies.

Learn to Land, a course created by the Lyncrest Airport, aims to avoid disasters that could result if a pilot has a medical emergency mid-flight.

The course was inspired in part by an incident in northeastern Wisconsin earlier this month, when an elderly woman took control of her husband's plane after he had passed out.

Helen Collins, 80, managed to land her husband's Cessna 414 twin-engine plane safely on April 2, even though she was not familiar with the aircraft's controls.

Collins's 81-year-old husband, John, was later pronounced dead in hospital.

"I tried to put myself in their shoes," said Jill Oakes, who is leading the Learn to Land course.

"If something happened and I didn't know how to do it, I'd be terrified too."

Brigitte Smutny, one of 14 students taking the course at the Lyncrest Airport this week, learned to land her boyfriend's aircraft on Wednesday.

"If something happens, I'm in control and I know what to do," Smutny said. "It won't be pretty, but at least I know what's coming."