LIFE

40 Years Later, Pilot Thanks God For Nearly Dying In Plane Crash

by Emerald Pellot
Emerald Pellot graduated summa cum laude from New York University with a degree in Writing & Popular Culture. She worked as Senior Editor of College Candy for 2 years, covering feminism, popular culture, and college life before joining LittleThings in 2015. Based in New York City, Emerald covers a wide range of topics from human interest pieces to celebrity news.

Four decades ago, Don Rheinhart was in a horrifying plane crash. He was a mere 22 years old, a pilot transporting his company’s president, along with the man’s wife and daughter.

As a winter storm hit, the plane’s piston engine failed to start. Don began his emergency procedures, but it was futile. The plane hit the roof of an apartment house, lost a wing, and skidded along a street. Everyone was fine, except for Don. No one expected him to live, and that if he did, he would never walk again. The event was traumatic, which is why 40 years later, it seems all the more unthinkable that Don says he thanks God that the plane crash happened.

Perhaps it’s because that’s when he met a nurse named Pat. The woman who got him back on his feet literally would become his wife months later. Still, she wasn’t the only kind soul. Don didn’t know a single person in Minnesota, where the plane crashed. One of the emergency responders, John Figi, let Don stay at his home for six months while he recovered from numerous surgeries. John would go onto become Don’s best man. Because of that crash, Don met his wife, started a family, and found his faith. He believes it was all meant to be.

“This wasn’t random,” Don told Human Kind. “Forty years ago, my life started again.”

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