Swing Dance Vinyl Lose Your Mind Find Your Soul Shirts line to Point 1: Was Sully calm and collected and did he exercise fast, accurate and competent judgment backed by rapid, effective actions? Yes. Should that ever, ever, ever be taken for granted regardless of education, age or experience? Absolutely not. My take: WTG Sully! 2) Did Sully undertake a series of decisive actions, not published in that exact sequence on any pre-existing checklist, that helped ensure the safety of the passengers on the stricken A-320? Yes, he did. There’s an old saw in tests and measures in psychology that intelligence is knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do. After establishing beyond any doubt that the engines could never be re-lit, one of the first things Sully did was to start the APU (auxiliary power unit, a small jet engine in the back of the plane that can provide electricity and hydraulics if the engines fail). The other actions he took while working with ATC (air traffic control) and figuring out the best overall course of action look just as good in considered retrospect as they did when everyone’s immediate survival was on the line. Again, is that the kind of performance you’d hope for in a skilled, experienced, ideal professional pilot? Of course, it is. And that what always happens? The annals of aviation are salted with accounts of flight crews shutting off the fuel supply to the remaining working engine when it was the other engine that had flamed out. Or forgetting to turn on de-icing and anti-icing equipment in icing conditions. Or landing at the wrong airport. Or any number of other blunders that in retrospect, strain credibility. Do we expect fundamental competence from pilots all the time and particularly when the chips are down? Yes, we do. Is it always present and accounted for when the SHTF? No, it isn’t. Again, WTG Sully.
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Finally, there’s the question of skill. A water landing (that phrase sounds far too polite, actually, so let’s say ditching) in Swing Dance Vinyl Lose Your Mind Find Your Soul Shirts always ends in disaster and dead bodies. Water, at any kind of landing speed for a jet transport, is worse, far worse than concrete. Statistically, more people have survived falls from airplanes without parachutes by landing in trees or snow or sand or even a plowed field, than have survived hitting the water at a terminal velocity of ~120 mph which tends to shatter the human body. Water makes a treacherous landing surface not just because of its concrete-like density at higher speeds, particularly for aircraft with engines in pods beneath the wing, but also because the slightest asymmetry in drag caused by one engine touching down sooner or harder than the other will immediately cause that engine to “dig in” to the water and cartwheel the aircraft before it’s ripped off of the wing before the wing gets ripped off the fuselage. ing the A320 to a non-crash deadstick landing at Teterboro under 2 unrealistic conditions, namely knowing immediately that the engines couldn’t be re-started before that was methodically determined and…after *seventeen* attempts where they honed their skills to finally get it right. Now, a water landing is far more difficult than a deadstick landing on a runway and given the state of the art of CFD (computational fluid dynamics) and flight simulators, there is NO WAY TO ACCURATELY OR REALISTICALLY SIMULATE THE TREACHEROUS HAZARDS OF A WATER LANDING. Sorry for screaming that in all caps, but there really aren’t words to describe the delicacy of such a maneuver except perhaps virtuosity.
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Sully brought down an Swing Dance Vinyl Lose Your Mind Find Your Soul Shirts, without power, laden with near-full fuel, passengers, baggage, and cargo, on a body of water, and he did so with almost indescribably delicate symmetry and precision, without *any* major structural damage to the plane! In fact, if some idiot passenger, in a panic, hadn’t bullied his way past a flight attendant and OPENED THE REAR CABIN DOOR ALLOWING WATER TO START POURING IN (did I mention that passenger was a panicked idiot and should be screamed at?) the airplane would have floated for many hours or perhaps even days since Sully had taken the measure, before landing, of activating the “ditch switch” which closed any openings, vents, exhausts, etc. on the aircraft that could let in water. , it may sound to some readers that I’m trying to write a hagiography about Sully. I can assure you that I am not. I’m merely writing as someone who’s been a pilot in one capacity or another for 49 years, who has seen and experienced a few things in aviation that lead me to never, ever take competence, guts, and skill, and particularly all three simultaneously, for granted. Sully demonstrated all three. So for the final time in this little essay, WTG Sully!