At 4pm yesterday, I was heading into a meeting with my new boss, who was at his office window looking out onto the Hudson River. "A plane just crashed into the river" he said. As we peered at the thin sliver of the Hudson still visible between the buildings, we could see ferries rushing south towards the site and helicopters hovering above.
As we all know by now, it was way more than that.
What happened was some sort of confluence of miracles, led by someone who is, in my humble estimation, a hero (as are the members of the flight crew and the many civilians who helped people in need). Capt. C.B. "Sully" Sullenberger is a man with the quick mind and skills I would want piloting every craft I fly.
As you all know by now, the plane, taking off from LaGuardia Airport, hit a flock of geese as they were taking off, shutting down both engines.
The New York Times reported: “There was just a lot of silence,” passenger Baretta told CNN. The big jet’s engines had died, and the plane was now gliding ominously over one of the nation’s most heavily populated areas.
After very quickly assessing the situation, the captain made a perfect landing on the Hudson's frigid waters, saving 155 lives. He and his co-pilot were the last to leave the flooding fuselage, making two sweeps of the plane before exiting themselves, ensuring that every passenger was out and risking their own lives in the process.
I know that lots of you are from outside New York and outside the US. So I want you to know this: my New York is the city you saw yesterday. When disaster struck, all the boats in the area rushed towards the danger to help the victims, not away. Commuters on the ferries helped get victims on board and tossed life jackets to those who needed it.
With the news flooded with coverage of the unutterable greed and avarice of Wall St., the banking industry and bastards like Bernie Madoff, it is heartening to know that there are still people who put the welfare of others before themselves, who use their knowledge and experience for the benefit of others and the greater good. Because of the Captain's actions, there are 155 people who have a chance to fulfill their own life's promise and 155 families who do not have to mourn a life cut short.
I am humbled by the actions of Captain Sullenberger, the crew of US Air, and the many people who helped save the lives of those terrified people.