Saturday, January 17, 2009

US Airways Flight 1549 - Ordinary People, Extraordinary Heroes

I'm compelled to express my admiration and appreciation for the genuine heroism demonstrated by the captain, crew, passengers, and both the professional and volunteer first responders who averted a huge potential tragedy when US Airways Flight 1549 ditched in the icy Hudson River this week. Our society tends to idolize celebrities who attain their fame for dubious reasons. This event has captured the nation's attention because a group of ordinary people created a true life miracle by averting panic and cooperating under leadership of a few extraordinary individuals preserving the lives of all on board through this harrowing ordeal.

The pilot, Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger III, is receiving well deserved recognition for his skill in landing the plane safely on the Hudson after loosing power. US Airways identified the the first officer as Jeffrey Skiles, and the three flight attendants; Donna Dent, Doreen Welsh and Sheila Dail, who quickly evacuated passengers, and preserved calm through their rescue.
A bulletin to members of the US Airline Pilots Association, said said Capt. Sullenberger personally accounted for all the passengers and remained on the sinking aircraft until he was sure the plane was empty.

"The fact that 155 people walked away from a very dangerous situation is a testament to the skill and professionalism of the entire flight crew."

The Association of Flight Attendants union, which represents the cabin crew members at US Airways, commended the three attendants for safely and quickly evacuating the passengers in the emergency landing. "Their years of experience and training made all the difference once the aircraft was in the water."

Ferry operators arrived on the scene within minutes and started the rescue. They were joined moments later by NYC emergency personnel.

The heroic efforts of this rescue undoubtedly benefited from good fortune, or as people of faith (including myself) say, "miraculous Divine intervention". I was touched by the "cartoon" published on the editorial page of the Providence Journal today reproducing the now famous AP photograph by Steven Day, showing the plane floating on the Hudson while passengers lined up, waiting for rescue on the wings and evacuation rafts. The illustrator added God's hands providing support from below the waters. I don't know the artist's name, but the drawing conveys a very powerful message.

Keep Warm,

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