Chesley B “Sully” Sullenberger III is being hailed as the hero pilot who saved 155 passengers from certain death yesterday as a US Airways Airbus lost both engines after Canadian geese burned out both plane’s engines and the pilot was forced to belly land the plane in the freezing waters of the Hudson River in New York.
Not only is this an incredible story of heroism, but it is also an incredible story of how 29 years of experience as a US Airways pilot and 7 years as a fighter pilot made the difference between life and death for so many souls.
According to the UK Times:
Captain Sullenberger, 58, served as a US Air Force fighter pilot from 1973 to 1980 and has also acted as an instructor and safety chairman for the Air Line Pilots’ Association.
He once wrote a paper with Nasa scientists on “errorinducing contexts in aviation”. Two years ago he started his own consulting business, Safety Reliability Methods Inc.
Sully also was last to leave the plane — checking the aisles twice before abandonning the craft himself. In the past 18 hours, Sully fan groups have popped up on Facebook. The US group has almost 8,000 members, and the French group over 13,000.
Would any of this group have survived without the fast-thinking efforts of the ferry captains and emergency crews? Certainly not. But if I had the choice of flying with a younger pilot or someone of Sully’s experience, I’d choose Sully anytime. His deep knowledge allowed him to use ALL his resources, instinctually, to make the right decisions.
I feel the same way about going to doctors, dentists, car mechanics, bringing in plumbers, electricians, hiring accountants, lawyers, business consultants, baby sitters, dog walkers…pretty much anyone I need to rely on experience.
I’m thrilled to know that Sully, at 58, had not been downsized (although I’m certain that starting his consulting company a few years ago is partial insurance in income generation when he does get cut).
Thank you, Sully. I suspect you’ll also have a bit more job security now thanks to that meandering flock of geese from my native land.