American Airlines Capt. Michael Johnston died of a heart-attack mid-flight from Phoenix to Boston early Monday morning, his wife Betty Jean Johnston told NBC News.
The 57-year-old veteran pilot and a father of eight had a double-bypass heart surgery in 2006, but had otherwise been in good health, his wife said, adding that the airline required Johnston to have a physical every six months to continue piloting.
"He loves flying," Johnston said. "He is very loving and caring, and he'll do anything for anybody - bend over backwards, try and help out anyone as much as he can. He's always been that way."
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Johnston's final flight, which carried 147 passengers and five crew members, was diverted to Syracuse, New York. The airline said the co-pilot landed the jet safely at 7 a.m. ET Monday.