Cap'n Sully


The NYRB has a review of a book on "The Miracle on the Hudson" with a fascinating account of the landing:

A man in the back had the poise and presence of mind to call out, "Exit row people, get ready!" A woman mid-plane with a baby boy on her lap did not know what to do. The man next to her asked if he could brace her son for her, and she passed the child to him, and he did.

In the cockpit the ground warning alarm had begun, an automatic voice repeating that the plane was too low. Sullenberger called for the flaps on the wings to be extended in order to slow the plane for impact. At two hundred feet he began breaking his glide and ballooned a little. They were at 150 knots--about 180 miles an hour. He lowered the nose slightly and then, pulling back on the stick in the last few seconds before touching down, his airspeed spent, remarked coolly to Skiles, "Got any ideas?"

"Actually not," Skiles said.

They touched the water at an optimum angle, nose slightly high, 120 knots. The left engine tore away, the plane's belly ripped open toward the rear, and the aircraft skimmed to a stop. There was such heavy spray that the passengers near the windows thought they had gone entirely underwater.

The evacuation of the plane was all one could hope for. Water entered quickly. There was an eighty-five-year-old woman who needed a walker, plus several children aboard. In the rear, the floor had buckled and a beam had broken through. There was more water there; it rose to almost chest-high before everyone was out. The flight had been sold out--only one empty seat. The flight attendants, three women all in their fifties, were exemplary. Doreen Welsh, the oldest, in the rear, had the greatest difficulties and was seriously injured. People tried to swim in the river, some slipped into the water and were pulled back, all ended up standing on the wings, some waist deep in water, or in the inflated slides and rafts. Sullenberger and Skiles had all along been moving through the cabin assisting and handing out life vests. In the end Sullenberger went through the deep water in the cabin one last time to make certain no one was left. The water was bone-chillingly cold, but within five minutes the first of the rescue boats was at the plane. There had been no casualties. All survived.

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This page contains a single entry by Papa-Lu published on January 8, 2010 11:31 AM.

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