Thursday, January 15, 2009

Definition: Hero

I was just going to give this guy Kudos on my side-bar, but the more I heard, the more I was blown away by "Sully" Sullenberger (the III, no less).

By now, you may be bloated with the news. Yeah? C'mon. Just have one more bite. It seems Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger III truly earned his real-deal-hero's wings this afternoon by landing a plane in the Hudson River. And, he didn't lose a single soul whilst doing so.

The short version: Sullenberger's plane took off from New York en route to Charlotte, North Caroline, and minutes later clashed with a flock of geese. The geese lost, but took out BOTH engines of the plane as they went down. A disaster movie in the making? Yes, but angels in the vicinity relaxed their wings, because pilot Sullenberger rode the helm. He, with 40 years of experience, including fighter jet pilot, Safety Chair of the pilot's union, and crash inspector. Definition: providence.

After considering a return to La Guardia, as well as a Jersey airport, Sullenberger determined that the safest solution involved ditching the jumbo jet into the river. The HUDSON RIVER. So, he did. Without crashing, without flipping, without careening into the passing concrete landscape. One passenger described a gentle glide into the water with a hard jolt at the end. The flight attendants remained cool, calm, and focused on keeping everyone else in the same frame of mind.

The damage? A water-logged airliner, and one passenger sustaining two broken legs. Period. No souls lost.

And, before the plane settled into the icy waters, random boats and ferries raced to it's side to aid in the evacuation. The Coast Guard, the New York Fire Department, and NYPD divers quickly joined the effort, and the passengers were brought to safety in 90 SECONDS. Though I've said it before, it bears repeating: There is a special place in heaven for those who runs TOWARD danger to save lives.

One more thing: Pilot Sullenberger was the last man off the plane. Before he disembarked, he walked the aisles TWICE to ensure that all passengers were safely evacuated. A water landing that experts have labeled "miraculous" with palpable awe in their voices, coupled with a genuine, demonstrated concern for his passengers. There's something to be said for a man who knows his shite, and is equipped to use it. If he doesn't have chest hair, it's because it doesn't grow on steel.


rebecca said...

Thank you for posting this. He deserves every bit of recognition given him. I tell you, Fe, I am still in awe. I don't think I've ever, in my lifetime, have heard a story like this. He is indeed the hero of the day, the hero of the month, the year, the decade, shall I go on? It's just amazing. With clarity of mind and experience and unfailing responsibility for each and every one of his passengers he brought them all to safety. The man deserves medals and more. And, thank God, we have pilots like him flying the skies! God Bless him.

Yeah, go Sully! You are my hero!

Esther Garvi said...

This post made my heart go warm! What an inspiring story of courage and care!

Spartacus Jones said...

Sounds like a real stand-up individual.
And a hell of a pilot, too.


Lori Skoog said...

Well put Fe. It's a very scary thought, and Sully is a very brave man. Imagine what it was like for him taking that plane into the river.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad that I read your (always poetic account) before I read the the newspaper's.

Such an amazing story, and it wasn't a miracle at all. It was Sully!
Tina (of Christina's World)

Carolyn said...

I still have goosebumps reading this....nicely expressed and you do it so much better than the press.
Smiles and warm fuzzies!

b said...

A hero! You have said it so perfectly and it must be so. I really love the thought of a selfless person...this pilot and those that worked with him performed perfectly.

Thank you for this post.


CoyoteFe said...

Rebecca-san -

It's Kipling's "If you can keep your head when all about you
are losing theirs and blaming it on you," phenomenon. I read today that this was the first commercial flight water landing (50 years of history) without a fatality. Certainly every pilot would like to go their whole life avoiding such a thing, and forced to face it, would step up, giving it everything they had. What is wonderful is that all the focus, training and preparation that was apparently the mark of the man, allowed him to triumph. And, the whole keeping focus, checking twice to make sure everyone got off the plane before he did is just so such a quiet testimony to him. I wish all good things and kindness for him and his.

CoyoteFe said...


I agree. Feel good stories are worth every letter! :-)

Good morning, Spartacus Jones -

That is indeed praise from Caesar! I must say that I hope the marketing macine does not kick in too hard. :-)

Lorelei -

I cannot even imagine the amount of nerve and focus required. I am happhe could and did. All is well!

Halloooo Tina!

I agree, and am glad the right people where in the right place to bring their expertise to bear. Something we should tell ourselves and our children: The prusuit of excellence is its own reward. Thanks for your kind comment!

Hallooo Carolyn -

Thank you for the compliment. I must say that the press pursues a level of rigor and objectivity that I sorely lack. (Not to mention jopurnalism majors and proof-readers.) But, I'm OK-wid-it. Ha!

Hallooo b -

Thank you for visiting! I have a feeling that the pilot would be heartened by you celebrating excellence. When we think we cannot approach it, or it's not worth it, I think stories like this re-inspire us to rise.