CHICAGO (CBS)–A pilot and an air traffic controller are forever bonded by a dramatic day they’ll never forget.
The pilot, Vartan Seferian, described the emergency landing he made Wednesday at Chicago Executive Airport as a “holiday miracle.”
He was flying from Wisconsin in a small plane when the nose gear malfunctioned, forcing him to circle the airport for two hours to burn off fuel before finally making an emergency landing.
“I heard a pop,” Seferian said.
When he called for help, the air traffic controller’s calming voice came over the radio.
“You’re doing a great job sir, everything’s going to be alright,” the air traffic controller said. “This isn’t a rush thing. I’m here for you.”
Later, he says, “Let’s bring it back toward the field now.”
The dramatic moments as the plane landed were captured on video. The footage shows the plane come in for a landing on the runway, touching down on two wheels before the nose gear collapses.
Seferian and his passenger landed safe, thanks to the calm voice on the other end of the radio.
On Thursday, Seferian got a chance to meet the air traffic controller he says helped save his life.
“I can’t wait to see this guy,” Seferian said before walking into the airport to meet air traffic controller Shad Curtis.
Curtis embraced Seferian as soon as he walked into the air traffic control office.
The gratitude was palpable.
“Nice job,” Curtis said.
“No man–nice job to you,” Seferian replied. “My reward was you climbing out of that plane,” he said, his hand patting his chest.
Seferian told Curtis he made him feel like he was doing a good job.
“You were,” Curtis said. “I don’t want to take the credit for that.”
Seferian relived the terrifying moments before the landing.
“We knew we were going to crash,” he said. “How safe it’s going to be–we don’t know.”
He and his passenger were soon safe on the ground.
The two men embraced each other repeatedly, and Seferian planted a friendly kiss on Curtis’s cheek.
“You going home to your family,” Curtis said. “That’s all air traffic controllers really want.”
Curtis politely insisted he could not accept a fancy bottle of liquor Seferian brought as a thank you.
He said a thank-you was plenty.