Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Miracle in the Hudson in Prose

I missed seeing the rescue unfold live since I was in meetings all day. Instead I read about it in the multiple articles in the NYTimes. I actually prefer to read accounts of news like this than to see it. Good prose has a precision and vitality that I connect to on a deeper emotion level than video footage.

From Robert D. McFadden:

“What might have been a catastrophe in New York — one that evoked the feel if not the scale of the Sept. 11 attack — was averted by a pilot’s quick thinking and deft maneuvers, and by the nearness of rescue boats, a combination that witnesses and officials called miraculous.”

From Matthew Wald:

“Airliners are not meant to glide, although occasionally they have to. The pilot of this one, Capt. Chesley B. Sullenberger III, is certified as a glider pilot, according to Federal Aviation Administration records.”

How amazing is that, that this pilot was a glider pilot.

From Michael Wilson and Al Baker

“Another witness, Fulmer Duckworth, saw the crash from his office at the Bank of America. He looked through binoculars and saw 70 or 80 people on a wing. “Actually, it looked like everybody was really calm, like on the subway platform when it’s really, really crowded and everyone’s standing shoulder to shoulder,” he said.”

From McFadden:

“When all were out, the pilot walked up and down the aisle twice to make sure the plane was empty, officials said.”

That sense of duty and responsibility made me tear up. We have lived through eight years of men not caring enough to take responsibility for the lives of soldiers or for the financial lives of us all. But here was one capable, talented man making sure that not one single life is lost on his watch. I think we have all forgotten that such honor does still exist.

“In the unlikely event of a water landing . . . “ will take on a whole new meaning the next time I get on a plane. I can't count that airline passengers will get to walk on water a second time.


dorki said...

That drama just took my breath away. But really it should not have. If anyone has actually met and worked with such highly-trained professionals as he was, they should know some of what they are capable of.

People may joke about the Army "Gyro-Heads" and Air Force "Pipe-Jockeys", but in a pinch they Preform. Their intensive training and drive to serve makes them almost superhuman.

Hint: For the best, most accurate coverage of this (and other air, space, military news) pick up a copy of the magazine "Aviation week & Space Technology" (known to those in the trade as "Aviation Leak").

Christopher Campbell-Howes said...

Less of a miracle, more of a parable?
Is this not the recovery from perdition of a people by a leader of great commitment, determination and skill? Or am I reading too much into this?

M.A.Peel said...

dorki, thanks for the tip about Aviation week. One of my best friends is a big life-long aviation fan who now works for the FAA. I will surprise her with some new-found knowledge.

Christopher, I thought about that idea too. We have become so used to a world where little works the way it should that we have forgotten how talented and capable individuals are.