Friday, January 16, 2009

A Hero of a Pilot

Yesterday, a US Airways pilot, Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, successfully crash landed an Airbus 320 into the Hudson River. This was after what was suspected to be a flock of geese hit both engines. In reality, birds hit only one in every 10,000 planes, and usually it isn't really even noticed. Miraculously, in this case, all 155 people on board survived after both engines were taken out.

To say this pilot had skill is an understatement. He had years of flying experience, a past as a fighter pilot, and is even a certified glider pilot - which, obviously, came in quite handy.
As reported by the Associated Press, Sullenberger was also said to have studied crisis management:
"Sullenberger, 57, of Danville, Calif., is a former fighter pilot who runs a safety consulting firm in addition to flying commercial aircraft. He had been studying the psychology of keeping airline crews functioning even in the face of crisis, Bea said.

"When a plane is getting ready to crash with a lot of people who trust you, it is a test," he said. "Sulley proved the end of the road for that test. He had studied it, he had rehearsed it, he had taken it to his heart."

The other people to praise are the copilot and the rest of the crew, as well as New Yorkers - once again - racing in to help. Seeing the passengers, alive and well, standing on the wings in the water as they were being helped aboard ferries is a sight we will not forget.

Next weekend, I am taking a US Airways Airbus 320 to Charlotte, although I am flying from Minnesota, not New York. Am I nervous about flying? Not really. The one thing I have to say is I am quite impressed with the airline's quality of pilots.

The funny thing is that Sullenberger seems to be quite humble and just sees what he did as doing his job. But to everyone else he is a hero. And as far as the passengers are concerned, he must be no less than an absolute superman.

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