Chesley B. Sullenberger III has been described as "a pilot's pilot." The man has been flying since he was 14. He has flown fighter jets and commercial aircraft. He is one of those rare individuals, like race car drivers, who have his profession in his blood and bones. He pays attention. He cares, and it all matters to him. He probably feels the plane as an extension of himself the way a tennis player feels the racket is an extension of his arm.
On January 15, 2009, he piloted a plane with no engines into a successful water landing on the Hudson River. He knew he had enough velocity, and he made several decisions allowing him to sit the bird down where some might have frozen in the belief that they were already screwed. He rolled the dice a little, to be sure. They came up seven because, sometimes, they do. If the river had been deeper, or muddier, or things had gone wrong... but this time they didn't. That was in major part due to Capt. Sullenberger and his will to keep control of the aircraft.
So of course, "It's a Miracle!" Governor David Patterson wants everyone to know that Goddidit! This point of view is being repeated over and over: "Miracle on the Hudson!" Once again, the skills of an extraordiary human being cannot possibly be credited to him. God must get the credit. If the plane were to hang inexplicably in mid-air while everyone got off, that would be a miracle. If 2" of ice held under the weight of the plane, that would be a miracle. If the river suddenly parted like the Red Sea allegedly did, or became suddenly shallower in that particular spot... I'm sure you're getting the picture. A plane that was flown properly and obeyed all the laws of physics that were applicable under the circumstances is not a miracle. It is a breathtakingly beautiful piece of flying. Tell that to the superstitious lot that think God was fiddle-fucking about with the wings, all the while ignoring all those people getting blown up in the "Holy Land" from missile fire.
But wait, Capt. Sullenberger did get help pulling this off! This just in! God is a Ferry Boat!
Congratulations to all the human beings who participated in this rescue.
Labels: Human Achievement, Miracle, Plane Crash, Sullenberger