Nation

Stricken United plane captain dies

BOISE, Idaho — A United Airlines pilot died after suffering a major heart attack while flying from Houston to Seattle, forcing crew members to make an emergency landing in Idaho while two doctors on board did CPR in the first-class cabin.

Pilot Henry Skillern, 63, of Humble, Texas, was still alive when firefighters and paramedics ran to his aid Thursday night on the Boise Airport tarmack.

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He died a short time later while being treated at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, spokeswoman Jennifer Krajnik said.

Skillern had been a pilot for United Airlines for 26 years.

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Boise airport spokeswoman Patti Miller said it’s not uncommon for a medical emergency to force a plane to divert to the nearest airport. The Boise airport has had three such diversions in the past two days, she said.

But it’s rare for a serious malady to strike pilots, who undergo regular medical screening to keep their Federal Aviation Administration certification current.

Passengers aboard the Boeing 737-900 flown by Skillern seemed to handle the emergency well, Miller said.

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‘‘It seemed like they felt that everything that could be done, was being done,’’ she said. ‘‘The passengers were concerned for him, but everyone was very calm.’’

Associated Press

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