16 January 2009

That guy must have a set on him...

As someone who used to log 25,000+ miles a year on airplanes can I just say how un-f'in-believable that US Airways crash landing was yesterday?

I mean, it was on my most recent trip to Atlanta where I laughed off the whole part of the safety instructions where they talked about landing on water. When the hell EVER has a plane "landed" on the water and stayed in tact? I mean, ultimately they are telling you about flotation devices because your ass better be hanging on to one when that plane takes the dump.

I was pretty damn good at Physics when I was in school. When a body in motion, experiences a significant halt in its motion either from friction or another body, the energy has to dissipate SOMEWHERE. Usually it does in the form of 2,000,000 pieces of an airplane when we're talking about plane v water.

So, to bring that craft in, belly up and to have the wings hit the water at the exact same time is something only LEGENDS can probably do. Of course there were other factors at play here.
  • It was daylight. If it was dark, the pilot would have had a hell of a time seeing where the water was and at what point he could put it down
  • Gotta hand it to the French. For once they are worth their weight in crepes as the Airbus A320 is French-built and as we found out yesterday has a series of air tubes throughout the cabin which inflate enough to keep the plane floating. So somewhere in Frog-land there was an engineer that had HOPE and didn't say "it doesn't matter"
  • The weather was calm for once. For all of us who've spent far too much time sitting at LGA we know that this was probably a very rare day and there's 155 peeps who are thanking a weatherman somewhere who likely was WRONG!
Which brings us to Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger, III. a 40 year flying veteran, US Air Force fighter pilot trained (damn straight!!!) and whose resume is stellar. This guy has TWO Masters degrees (Industrial Psychology and Public Administration) and has been a Visiting Scholar at UCal-Berkeley at the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management. Here's the kicker though which ultimately, IMHO, allowed this man to do what hadn't been done in FIFTY years of aviation, he is a Certified Flight Instructor for (amongst other things) GLIDERS!!

Talk about the fabled "Right Place - Right Time" metaphor in life. If this isn't a perfect example of that happening, nothing is. I'd bet that almost any other pilot would have made a trainwreck of that situation. So here's a toast to "Sully"! Just absolutely amazing. Total calm under pressure.

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