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US Air Flight 1549 down in Hudson River

Updated on January 15, 2009

The Plane Goes Down

I'm sitting here on my sofa watching the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric. The news tonight is all about the US Air Flight that landed in the Hudson River today after both engines were disabled by flying birds. The news actually broke on this today between twelve and one PM Pacific time. And of course, regularly scheduled programming was interrupted as my wife was watching TV, not that she minded.

By now, of course, you'r heard the story, probably multiple times, and likely have moved onto other interests since as a disaster it ranked fairly low. The plane held one hundred, fifty-five people including the pilot and copilot, and all survived. There were no deaths and probably won't be, unless they occur as a result of injuries or exposure. The plane even showed in the pictures to be relatively intact, and although damage is almost a certainty the most newsworthy thing about the story was the survival of all aboard.

Flight 1549 in the water

Media Reports

So at the time of the first report, I was working away on my computer when I heard my wife say something about "something must have happened." Well, we're involved in two wars, terrorists are continuing to spew threats in our direction, and the presidential inauguration is at hand. So breaking into daytime programming for a news release is no surprise.

And as could probably be expected, when the story first broke, the reporter (I failed to catch the name) was understandably excited. There was no word of casualties or injuries, and only speculation regarding the cause. As things developed, however, the full story came out into the open, and it became apparent that what could have been a tragic accident had been averted.

So then why, when Katie Couric reports the story six hours later, is she still acting as though death, doom, and gloom pervade the entire situation. Yes, it's true some people had to be rescued by divers, It's true there were injuries. It could even turn out that more people were injured than not. but why not more reporting on the positive outcome? Why not state a case on the things that were done right, or at least turned out right.

It's no secret that bad news sells better than good. It's a natural human trait, perhaps a character flaw, that most of us get some degree of satisfaction hearing bad news as opposed to good. There are those among us who would probably even say good news is boring. But the fact that there were no immediate deaths in this event is a miracle.

The Things That Were Done Right

Much, if not all of the credit should go to the pilot, Chesley Sullenberger. He assessed and correctly determined the cause of the engine failures when they happened. He reported such to flight controllers and requested permission to land at a nearby airstrip.

He had to guide the aircraft, without power, past the Manhattan skyscrapers, and turn to follow the river. He successfully guided the plane over the George Washington bridge to eliminate another potential crash hazard. All this time, the plane was vibrating, and the cabin was starting to fill with smoke.

Then the critical part; landing the plane without a solid runway and wheels on the plane. The A320 probably had to accelerate to around two hundred miles per hour to lift off. Undoubtedly, it lost some speed while coasting, but was surely moving at a relatively high speed when it hit the water. The water, moving slower, held the potential to cause the aircraft to flip or roll upon impact, and the fact that it didn't indicates that it came in at good angle. Once again, this is to the pilot's credit. Also, he advised the passengers to prepare for a "hard landing" which is a much better description of what happened that the term used by the media, ie. "crash". I heard reports also, that after the passengers evacuated, the pilot went through the craft to be sure no one had been missed.

The Aftermath

 What happens next? We'll have to watch and see. Will CBS, ABC, NBC and or FOX report this with a positive outlook, or will it continue to be covered, in a way that suggests it resulted as a part of all that is wrong with America. The cause of the crash was a flock of birds striking the jet. Both engines were knocked out as a result. Will consumer groups push for more safeguards to prevent future accidents? Will animal rights groups seed to have flights curtailed so wild geese and other species won't be threatened? And what about the passengers? Although no deaths were reported, will there be lawsuits for the "pain and suffering"? Will the pilot who saved their lives and almost certainly felt a degree of responsibility none of his passengers shared, ultimately be blamed for failing to avoid a flock of birds, even though it was impossible?

And, if these or other scenarios happen, how will the media report it? Will it be with the typical doom and gloom overtones, or in the event of lawsuits, will they play the victims' advocate, and infer the defendant(s) are getting what they deserve? Time alone will tell, but it remains to be see the extent of cruelty and injustice mankind can inflict on other members of his own species.


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    • Trsmd profile image


      8 years ago from India

      The reason behind the landing on the river (water) is that if any thing goesvweong the water in the river will minimise the damage.. Good thinking by Capt Sully

    • Charlie Wolf profile imageAUTHOR

      Charlie Wolf 

      9 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      HI Ray, I don't know that the co-pilot was mentioned by name, at least not often, and not that I've heard. Seems like a questionable ommision.

      Thanks Dona. I know what you mean. I like to hear some good news once in a while.

      You are right britney. Either he's good, or very lucky, and I don't know anyone that lucky.

      Hello Jeniferr. I'm almost to the point I'd rather drive. Auto accidents are generally more survivable. Your car stalls, you just coast over to the side of the road. In a plane, you don't have that option.

      Thanks Belinda. The news is still going on about it too. It's been revealed that the same plane had some issues a couple of days before it crashed. And US Air has reimbursed each passenger $5000 for their lost luggage and things. They also announced they would refund the ticket prices. I guess we should watch for more.

    • Belinda Hodge profile image

      Belinda Hodge 

      9 years ago from Brisbane Australia

      I agree with you about the media - I am sick of their negativity - so much so I'd rather read a Hub or a Blog about a news item than listen/watch/read mainstream media.

      I missed this news - we had visitors, so thanks for the good news. It was great work by the pilot and thank goodness no one was killed.

    • Jeniferr profile image


      9 years ago from United States

      I had a flight the morning after this and as a shaky flier, stuff like this is hard to shake from your head. Its pretty reensuring though that there are such talented pilots in the cockpit. The pilot truly was a hero that day!

    • britneydavidson profile image


      9 years ago from united kingdom

      this is really great job done by pilot Chesley Sullenberger.he has been given the name hero of hudson...and he deserves it..all creadit for this survival goes to none other than only pilot.

    • Dona Rosa profile image

      Dona Rosa 

      9 years ago from Tennessee

      Yep, I noticed even with the New Year, they brought out a series on "Death" on the main front page of our daily here in a major USA city. Sheesh! I mean the ecomony is a bit rocky with sales down during the let's focus on "Death?"

      Get a grip, media!!

      It's not the writers, either. As a writer, I know plenty of excellent, positive content gets submitted. It's the media owners who choose that crap :(

    • profile image

      Ray Sharpe 

      9 years ago

      Who was the co-pilot? He was just as much a hero as rhe pilot.


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