12 year old executes emergency landing, tragedy narrowly avoided

William Neff

Media Writing

Wednesday March 11, 2009



12 year old executes emergency landing, tragedy narrowly avoided


By William Neff

 Twelve-year-old Alyssa Shanahan had to perform an emergency landing of her father’s Mooney Executive 21 propeller-driven airplane, after her father James Shanahan lost consciousness wile at the controls.

James Shanahan, his two daughters Alyssa and Adrienne, and his wife Mary, were traveling from Grand Rapids Michigan, to the Burlington area. James Shanahan is a licensed pilot with hours of flying experience under his belt, but midway through the flight Mr. Shanahan began complaining of dizziness and soon after lost conciseness. At which point the plane began a shallow noise dive. Trapped in the back seat with her daughter Adrienne, Marry Shanahan felt helpless, “There was nothing I could do.” Said Mrs. Shanahan, “I was in the back seat and with my daughter Adrienne. I couldn’t reach the controls.”

Daughter Alyssa then sprang into action and took control of the plane. “I’ve been flying with my daddy since I was a little girl.” Said Alyssa, “He taught me all about flying and even let me handle the controls sometimes.”

Alyssa then contacted Air traffic control, and was guided through the emergency landing, skidding to a stop only ten feet from the northbound lane of Interstate 51.

No one was seriously injured in the landing, and after being rushed to the hospital, it was found that the cause of James Shanahan’s sudden lose of conciseness was caused by an allergic reaction he had to a prescription that he had begun taking that morning. 


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