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."
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.