This afternoon, one such event occurred in New York’s Hudson River.
Three minutes after taking off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport in Queens U.S. Airways Flight 1549 lost power probably due to a number of Canadian geese getting sucked into one or more of its engines. Within a split second the Captain of the plane tried to head for New Jersey but it was obvious to him that the aircraft could not make it.
The plane was losing power and altitude, The lives of 5 crew members and approximately 150 passengers hung in the balance as the plane hung over the densely populated New York city metropolitan area.
Almost immediately Captain Chesley Sullenberger decided to use the Hudson River as his landing strip.
The quick decision proved to be the best possible one.
Without risking the lives of any citizens below his craft, Captain Sullenberger tried to save the lives of the more than 150 people in his care and in what officials and experienced aviators can only describe as the type of picture perfect landing that one hopes for under the best of condition, Sullenberger glided the powerless aircraft down towards the Hudson’s icy waters and skimmed its surface until the plane came to a sudden stop, in one piece and floating.
The impact was still terrifically rough but it could have been much rougher had the angle of descent been slightly off.
Had the plane not hit the surface of the water properly, it could have easily been torn apart. Had it hit the river surface in any way less then perfect, its cargo hold doors and landing gear bays could have been comprised and allowed water to quickly rush into the plane and cause it to sink much quicker than it did, thereby subjecting passengers to subfreezing water and limiting their chances for rapid rescue.
Some might say that the Captain and the passengers were lucky, very lucky. As for me I believe that the passengers were lucky. Lucky to have Chesley Sullenberger as the Captain of their doomed flight.
What Captain Sullenberger did, did not involve luck. It took experience, commitment, judgment, confidence, talent, bravery, nerves of steel and presence of mind. A lesser person could have panicked. They could have frozen and allowed gravity to bring the plane down upon crowded neighborhoods as children made their way home from school.
Had Captain Sullenberger not been the man that he is, many more than the over 150 passengers on flight 1549 could have died. Hundreds more could have perished.
Of course the flight crew of flight 1549 were not alone in their heroism.
New York has dealt with calamity on a scale that few other cities have ever seen. As a result New york city is prepared for challenging, unexpected events and so the city’s emergency service workers ran into action before the plane hit the water. Alerted to the emergency when the plane first lost power, police, firemen, paramedics were in the ready and hospitals on both sides of the Hudson were put on alert. Ambulances rushed to the shores alongside of the planes resting place. Ferry boats darted toward the floating aircraft and as they floated along side the slowly sinking plane, passengers boarded the boats and were whisked to safety.
All of those involved are heroes but today our hats go off to captain Chesley Sullenberger. Even before finally exiting the plane hinmself, whith the frigid water rising around him, Sullenberger went up and down the jet’s aisle to make sure that no one was still aboard.
Had it not been for him, the new year would not be getting out of its first 15 days without a tragic and dramatic loss of many lives.
New York’s Governor David Paterson called the event a “miracle on the Hudson”. I say the miracle is named Chesley Sullenberger and tonight there are many people thanking God for the miracle that Sullenberger performed.
Click here to view today’s top story on POLITICS 24/7 and join the debate to pick the next chairman of the Republican National Committee. Find out how to submit yor question to the candidates in a debate sponsored by Rebuild The Party and YouTube. And take the poll on who you think should be the next RNC Chairman.
Read more including today’s installment of PUNCHLINE POLITICS …………….