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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Wed, 2 Apr 97 12:22:52 -0800
Forwarded-by: Keith Bostic <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Forwarded-by: email@example.com (John Grabowski)
Subject: David Helfgott Lands Plane Safely
(Reuters) - Airline pilot David Helfgott, who's life story was told in
the inspirational movie "Fly," landed a Boeing 747 safely today at La
Guardia International Airport, with only minor injuries to passengers.
The plane bounced three times while touching down, and one wing scraped
the ground and burst into flame, while the rest of the plane slid into a
terminal window, but there were no other reported problems. Helfgott had
recently crashed two planes in landing attempts.
"We're so thrilled," said one passenger, a woman who was taken off on a
wheelchair after the landing. "My husband and I were on the other two
flights, too. He did such a good job landing this time, and his story
was so inspirational."
Helfgott has made his aviation comeback after a nervous breakdown in 1975
that the film blamed on his father's nasty and brutal attitude toward him.
Intensive therapy has reportedly cured Helfgott, and his handlers say he
is ready to fly again. All his flights are sold out weeks in advance.
But it wasn't always smooth sailing -- make that flying.
His first flight after his comeback ended in disaster when Helfgott
entered the plane through the rear door and sat down in the back row and
tried to "fly" the plane by humming along with the engines.
After being escorted to the cockpit by a flight attendant -- to the cheers
of supportive passengers -- he managed a successful takeoff, only to crash
moments later when, apparently thinking himself finished, he got up and
switched off all the controls.
A second flight also fared poorly when he came into the cabin while his
DC-9 was 30,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean and opened all the doors "to
get some fresh air."
Despite some negative comments from fellow pilots, Helfgott's press agent
says he's as good a pilot as John Hodiak. Hodiak, who doesn't exist,
could not be reached for comment.
A CD-ROM simulator game, "Fly With David Helfgott," has been a hit, with
20,000 copies sold so far. Also reportedly in the works are a "Fly At
Home" instructional video and a line of parachutes.
© 1997 Peter Langston