now that’s a pilot.

The pilot of the Airbus that did a water landing in the Hudson River today was definitely on the stick.  He landed his bird in the absolute best area to put down an Airbus full of passengers, two dead engines, and almost 8,000 gallons of highly flammable Jet-A fuel, and he did it in textbook fashion.

Here’s a hat tip to US Airways captain Chelsey B. “Sully” Sullenberger.  His actions saved the lives of 155 people today.  Word has it he walked the cabin of the submerging Airbus twice to make sure that everyone was off the bird.  I hope his employer showers him with the accolades he deserves.

68 thoughts on “now that’s a pilot.

  1. MarkHB says:

    And fresh bite-marks in my desk from the nooz calling it a “miracle”. Hey, give it up for The Invisible Friend! So some guy in a funny suit was in the room in the nose? So what? It’s a MIRACLE!

    Grrrrrrrrrrr.

  2. Marko says:

    Yeah, no shit. I figured if $DEITY wanted to work a helpful intervention, it would have been more effective to move that flock of birds out of the way. But that wouldn’t make for good teevee, and subsequent opportunity to give major props to $DEITY, I guess.

  3. wonder what capt. sully would say? here’s betting he gives God credit for guiding his mind and hand under pressure. and those 155 souls? probably a lot of calling up and making up with “invisible friends” going on at about impact minus 30 seconds…doubters and mockers no more.

    jtc

  4. Marko says:

    jtc,

    and if he specifically didn’t give God credit, nobody would care to report it, because it wouldn’t give people the warm and fuzzies.

    Personally, I am disturbed by the notion that God was swayed by the increased “calling up” and decided on the fly to not let anyone die because the passengers were pious enough just before impact. Call me a doubter and mocker all you want, but a deity operating on such capricious principles isn’t all that admirable in my book. (I probably just lack the necessary spiritual insight, I guess.)

  5. Tom says:

    You wonder why pilots get paid big bucks for a job done largely by computers? Because every now and then shit happens.

  6. mw, i guess the important thing to the 155 and their loved ones is that they have the warm and fuzzies right now as opposed to, you know, the cold and clammies.

    and whether it disturbs you or not, the “notion” of prayer is pretty well established as a cornerstone of belief…even among heretofore nonbelievers. i wonder how many on that plane who professed (even flaunted) their atheism were -at least temporarily- converted? can you say with certainty that you would not have been, when faced with imminent demise and a fatherless future for your munchkins?

    nothing is absolute when it comes to the existence -or nonexistence- of a supreme Force, marko…and the lack of proof one way or the other is the very definition of faith.

    jtc

  7. The Bad Yogi says:

    I’ll bet there were some people on that plane who were all, “Man you better pray better than THAT, ’cause I don’t wanna die.”

    I’m sorry the folks on (all the ones who didn’t make it) didn’t pray hard enough to please your god. Must suck for them. “Man, god, I wuz doin’ mah bestest. But these suckers just weren’t pullin’ their weight!”

    Faugh.

    Kudos to the captain.

  8. Shooter says:

    I’ll say this, if that pilot didn’t do it before, I bet he clanks when he walks now. He’s got a solid pair of brass ones for sure. Hats are off for doing a fantastic job of putting that bird in the drink.

  9. MarkHB says:

    For the sake of clarity, I get honked off with this being called “a miracle” because it detracts from the pilot, as though his skill and determination were second to Divine Intervention. Feel free to think that all the mumbled Hail Marys produced enough hot air to increase the airframe’s buoyancy if you like.

  10. divemedic says:

    If the divine being is perfect, and has a perfect plan, then why would the omniscient being change the perfect plan based on the pleas of his imperfect creations?

    Prayer is a manifestation of the human desire to bargain their way out of bad situations. People praying does not prove the existence of a deity any more than the existence of SETI proves the existence of aliens.

    Denial
    Bargaining (this would be the prayer step)
    Anger
    Despair
    Acceptance

  11. Tam says:

    As a newly-minted Hoosier, I’d like to say: Boiler Up!

    Also, Go Air Force!

  12. Tam says:

    BTW, for those who haven’t read up on this guy’s resume, if you had to pick a pilot out of everybody flying in commercial aviation today to stick in this situation, this would be your guy.

    He wrote the book on emergency procedures for US Airways pilots. Literally.

  13. LittleRed1 says:

    Add a kick in the pants to the reporters who call it a crash – no, it was a controlled landing. Or that it “plunged” into the Hudson – no, it skipped a bit and landed quite nicely.
    Hats off to the pilots and crew, and kudos to the passengers for a calm, rapid evacuation.

  14. that pilot is awesome, no doubt about it…and if i’da been back there in that cabin talking to God, the conversation would have been along the lines of “God, i know you’re busy and all, but if you can just let it be that the guy with the epaulets up front is the one who “wrote the book” and not the one who just polished off a threemartinilunch, that’d be great, thanks.”

    jtc

  15. Eric says:

    How many people fired up Flight Simulator last night to try and land their plane in the Hudson?

  16. Robert says:

    Good money says that in the next three or four weeks, PETA, Green Peace, and all the rest of the loonies on that side of the line will be sueing the guy for polution and scaring the liquid waste product out of the sea kitties.

  17. Phil says:

    Wow… some powerful religion hate going on here.

    No doubt the pilot has all kinds of mad airplane skillz. He must have laid that thing in just so to keep one of the engines from catching the water too early (for a repeat of the airliner crash in the Indian Ocean not terribly long ago).

    As for God’s part in it, well, I don’t really see the point in discussing something with folks who have already determined the matter and their minds closed.

  18. MarkHB says:

    It’s religious hate to say “This was an act of extreme human competence, not a miracle” now?

    Oooh, look. More bite marks in the desk…

  19. Phil says:

    You went far beyond that to straight-up mocking.

    If you can’t tell the difference, well, there isn’t much I can do for you.

  20. there’s no hate going on here, phil…bit of typical gratuitous smarminess maybe.

    the host and others here hold as dear as i some pretty important convictions, but we can’t always just sit around winking and nodding, no fun in that.

    it’s really just an extension of the eons old, unending, unwinnable debate over that which none of us has any proof…always fun, though.

    jtc

  21. MarkHB says:

    Well, after years of every act of conspicuous competence getting branded “A Miracle”, whatever field it’s in then I’m gonna start getting snarky. It’s probably only going to get worse. I’m quite fond of humanity and it’s really starting to grate how religions grab onto any good thing humans do and call it “A Miracle” like it’s not actually their own acheivement, but a present from some higher power.

    Terribly sorry if you find that offensive, but I find the notion that people are only capable of doing good through divine intervention pretty stinky too. I wasn’t the one who immediately started ballyhooing this as being some deity’s act, so the initial offense does not lie here.

  22. “It’s probably only going to get worse.”

    no doubt in my mind, mr. h hyphen b…looking forward to it.

    “I’m quite fond of humanity…”

    me too…no incongruity in that and the conviction that the awesomeness that humanity is, is entirely an accident of random matter.

    jtc

  23. that of course would be “is not entirely an accident…” jtc

  24. Phil says:

    Pawnbroker, I can see that. And Mark, I can excuse some good old snarkiness (just watch out for it coming the other way, we can both partake).

    But if you could do me one favor: What is desk-biting? That’s a new one on me. I’m all up with a good WHARRGARBL every now and then, but I think I missed the formation of the desk-biting meme.

    /Still thinks the stripes on the tail of US Air jets are there to be used as a depth gauge.

  25. Anonymous says:

    I pray every time I am on a plane that is taking off or landing. Usually that the person flying it will be able to do his/her very best and get us there safely. I figure it can’t hurt.

    High five to the pilot!

  26. MarkHB says:

    Phil,

    You don’t need anyone’s permission to snark right back at me. If I’m going to run away crying every time someone zaps me back I should be sticking my head over the parapet.

    As to the desk-biting? Grinding one’s teeth does terrible things to the tooth enamel. A bit of wood in the way stops chipping or cracking….

  27. crankylitprof says:

    I’ve been doing a great deal of praying lately.

    Praying that the upcoming administration isn’t going to be the absolute clusterfucking cavalcade of fail and disaster I think it’s going to be.

  28. Brian Dale says:

    Here’s to Captain Sullenberger with his talent, his clear head and his thousands of hours of practice. Dedication to one’s calling, with years of thoughtful analysis, really matters: as we’ve all seen, he pulled it off. You can make a water landing in a commercial jet liner with no fatalities–now. He’s proved that it’s possible.

    Triumph of the human spirit? It’s real.

  29. robnrun says:

    The captain more than earned his paycheck, so did the rescuers and ATC guys. As Matt commented over on Better and Better, they were doing their job and they did it to perfection.
    No miracle, a lot of luck and just for once human ingenuity and ability all working at its best.
    If one has to pull religion into it, (why?) well, then I happen to believe that man was given the ability, but what he Chooses to do with that ability? That is all up to the individual. No one but myself is responsible for my actions or my responses to outside/random forces (as it might be a flock of geese). I believe I will answer for my actions; but frankly I find the idea of a deity randomly reaching in and ‘fixing’ something annoying. Free will and all that…
    Go Air Force.

  30. Jay G. says:

    Okay.

    I’ve come down hard on the @$$hats who cling to the “Evolution is a sham!!!111 It’s not teh Gawd’s WILLLL!!!”. Personally, I think it’s quite possible that He, in His infinite wisdom, set things in motion such that evolution et al would be the preferred modus operandi…

    In that same vein, why can’t y’all agree that there might have been a touch of the miraculous in this event?

    Yes, Captain Sullenberger deserves every single kudo, accolade, attaboy, etc. for his incredible feat of piloting skill.

    But isn’t it just a little wondrous that he, who literally wrote the book, happened to be at the helm of that Airbus on that flight?

    Just something to think about…

  31. MarkHB says:

    Not in my universe, Jay. I don’t believe in anything I can’t taste, touch, feel, hear, smell or at least infer with a good particle accelerator run or interferometry.

    Why does there have to be something supernatural about someone just being good at their job? And as Marko pointed out, if there’s all sortsa miraculosity going on, wouldn’t it have been a lot less hassle to just have those geese flying the other way?

  32. MarkHB says:

    Sorry to harp on, but put it this way: If he’d cartwheeled across the Hudson and everyone had died, would it have been written up by the FAA as “Pilot Error” or “Act of God”?

    Pilot Error, you say? Well then why isn’t it Pilot For The Ever-Loving Win when they get it right? Why – why? – does it have to be hijacked as a Glorification of something other than just competence? This is basically why it’s like a half-pound of sand in my boxer-shorts. The dude did it right. That’s all. If he’d gotten it wrong, then the FAA would not have put “God Hates Us” in the Cause box – they’d have put Pilot Error. In this case, Captain Sullenburger flew his busted air machine flawlessly.

    If he gets quoted saying it’s a miracle, then I’ll eat everything I’ve posted on the topic without salt or sauce, but until and unless that happens, then the guy flawlessly executed a very difficult task, and that’s the beginning middle and end of it as far as anyone can prove.

  33. Jay G. says:

    Except that it WOULDN’T have been pilot error, Mark – that’s a strawman, and I suspect you know that.

    Birds flying into the intake – or the plane getting hit by lightning – would fall under the “Act of G-d” rubric.

    So if He takes the blame when one of His creatures (or creations) causes the crash, why so reluctant to let Him share in the glory when a crash is averted?

    Look, I think I started out by saying that the pilot deserved every single positive thing said about him. He did an absolutely MASTERFUL job of landing that plane, and I don’t think ANYONE is trying to take away from the man’s skill, training, and sheer brass balls.

    What’s puzzling is why so many can’t open their minds to the concept that there might have been something larger at work here; something above and beyond the explainable.

    As I said, even if every single thing that went right was 100% the result of Captain Sullenberger (and I’m not claiming it wasn’t, mind you), what are the odds that the pilot who, as Tam reminds us, wrote the book on emergency procedures just so happened to be the pilot on that flight?

    Sheer random coincidence that a fighter pilot whose career has centered on crisis management just happened to be the pilot of a jet that had a flock of birds get sucked into the intake? I suppose. People get struck by lightning twice, too.

  34. The Bad Yogi says:

    Then how are we to interpret those more common occasions where the plane does crash, and all are killed?

    By what seems to be your point, we should just accept that god sometimes kills us and sometimes saves us. No?

    Statistically, it is not unreasonable to think that over 19000 hours, the captain would have had to handle many emergencies. This one was just more public. But not miraculous by necessity.

    Anyway, a bird strike is not considered an “act of god” by the FAA; they don’t have a category by that name.🙂 To them it’s just a bird strike.

    BTW, I do actually believe in god. It’s just that I disagree with you about his/her attributes.

  35. LabRat says:

    Jay,

    I don’t think it’s really about being unable to open a mind to the possibility of either the divine or the the possibility of any sort of divine involvement in this specific case. I don’t know about you, but I basically NEVER see anyone attribute a terrible crash to “act of God”- I see “terrible tragedy” if the pilot was clearly blameless, but never “God decided to kill the hell out of these people for no particular reason despite what were no doubt their prayers to survive.” But, like MarkHB and Marko, I DO see an awful lot of “IT WAS A MIRACLE” when a pilot of extraordinary skill like this one makes a saving throw and saves the passengers from what would otherwise certainly be a major disaster. From our perspective, like Mark tried to explain, it essentially ascribes all good things to God (who is let off the hook when bad things happen) and all bad ones to humanity or “just luck”. If you believe that humankind has essentially bootstrapped its way up from mere animalhood by sheer hard work and applied reason, despite all his faults, that looks like a grotesque abdication of personal responsibility- and from a few believers I’ve met, it inarguably IS.

    Now me, I’m probably a few degrees softer on the “atheist” scale than either of them- and over a beer I can readily set up a mental scenario where a deity with the degree of subtlety required to make the kind of snooker break that writing a few simple universal laws and getting a working complex universe would take could be ultimately involved here. (For example, if I then chose to believe that said deity had lessons it wished humanity to learn, the one here might be “train to your fullest capacity and be vigilant” rather than “sometimes I will save you with miracles”.) There’s nothing painful or offensive about that to me, and I doubt there is to MarkHB or Marko either.

    What IS offensive is the attitude that this is clear and blatant proof of an intervening deity and anyone who says otherwise is just willfully pigheaded about the matter- see “doubters and mockers”, above. Is the attitude that God was obviously NOT involved and this is just proof of how mad skilled humanity, which are after all just very clever apes, offensive to believers? Probably. Is there plenty of logical room for both belief and unbelief in this particular episode, so that it’s unlikely to change ANYONE’S mind? I think that’s a bit more than probable.

    My two bits, for what it’s worth.

  36. MarkHB says:

    Jay,

    Strawman? By what lights? Pilots train for all manner of cockups. Modern airliners glide like birds – For pity’s sake, during an afternoon at British Airways’ Cranfield simulators, I managed to land a 777 with both engines out at Geneva airport, at night, from too low and too far away from the wrong vector and I hadn’t been in a real cockpit since 1988!

    The nearest similar water-landing attempt I can find was a hostage situation, and was going quite well until some Tango fuckwit lunged at the controls. (150-odd of 175 lost after that one. *slow clap for Tango fuckwits everywhere*)

    I don’t recognise this as miraculous. This is just proof that the systems work, the training works, and we’ve got the best civil pilots in the world in our airliners, often from the best flight-school in the world, the USAF. Having this “claimed” by religious types – with increasing strenuousness – as a miracle and therefore proof of some god’s existance dimishes those things, diminished Humanity and frankly hints to me that “faith requires no proof” is more of a strawman than the FAA’s stringent Pilot Error findings could ever be.

  37. MarkHB says:

    Addendum as LabRat was typing gentle wisdom while I was trying not to actively rant: I’m not an atheist. I’m an agnostic. My inner jury’s out on the presence or absence of a god/many gods/no gods at all. I simply see no proof of it – what I do see are Humans willing to claim acts of Humans being Really Fucking Good as “Miracles”, whereas cockups get put down to bad luck, stupidity or (desk-biting) “Worshipping The Wrong God”

    Give me one particle of Godhood, one gram of Divinity, one thing that can categorically be pointed at and with no simpler explanation be called unequivocably A Miracle (with proper recordings, corroboration and either repeatability or such utter incontrovertability as to brook no argument) and I’ll be sold. This, by the least hypothesis, was not a miracle. It was a well-trained, highly experienced bloke in a proper shituation that he handled magnificently. Divinity Not Detected. The fact that it was him on duty? Sheer fluke. If it had been his first officer, one of the people he’d trained, or another sterling product of the Armed Forces I’m sure they’d have managed as well – because you know what?

    My faith in Humanity is pretty unshakeable. That I confess to.

  38. MarkHB says:

    In the interests of being lighthearted:

    You want a miracle? Show me a submarine soft-landed on a cloud. THAT, my friends, would be a fucking miracle. 😉

  39. Jay G. says:

    I dunno.

    I can’t quite figure out why it can’t be both – sheer indomitable human spirit, training, and guns as well as Divine intervention.

    I can understand the “If it was G-d’s help, why then does He permit some planes to crash?” questions. I wish I had an answer. Hell, I’ll freely admit that this is the weakest part of my argument – there’s just no good reason why some are spared, while some aren’t.

    I just don’t believe in random chance. There’s something more to it – you ascribe it to “sheer fluke”. Well, I call it Divine Intervention. Po-TAY-to, po-TAH-to. In any case, it’s a damn good thing that particular plane was captained by that particular pilot, was it not?

    To look at it another way, what about those other crashes, the ones where G-d decided to kill the hell out of all those other people. Why didn’t the sheer brilliance of those pilots save the people on board? Are you making the case that extraordinary pilots are a rare occurrence? I don’t think so.

    We can agree that there are many reasons for a perfectly good airplane to crash (and I’ve had pilot friends tell me there’s no such thing as a perfectly good airplane…). Sometimes it really is human error – in which case the pilot/co-pilot/terrorist @$$hole is to blame. Sometimes it’s mechanical malfunctions – in which case the mechanic(s)/cheap-assed airline is to blame.

    And sometimes, it’s just that random fluke, that one-in-a-million thing like a flock of birds or lightning strike.

    And maybe, just maybe, in some of those cases there’s a guy upstairs who says, “Oh, shit, that wasn’t supposed to happen. Hold my beer and watch what I do about THIS!”.

    I don’t know. I’m in no rush to find out. But I’ll admit it’s a possibility.

    And that’s all that I’m saying.

  40. Jay G. says:

    Heh. That “guns” should be “guts”… I need to get to the range…

    BTW, I’m approaching this FAR more from a Devil’s Advocate standpoint.

    I’ll leave with one parting thought: What about the cancers that mysteriously go away? “Spontaneous remission“.

    More flukes? Or genuine miracles?

    I honestly don’t know.

  41. mhb: “If he (the pilot) gets quoted saying it’s a miracle, (interpreted to mean, as has been argued here, that he may be thankful to God for His guidance, the raw materials required for becoming an awesome pilot, the confluence of favorable conditions and capable secondary players, or maybe sporting the old-saw bumper sticker on his bimmer “God is my co-pilot”), then I’ll eat everything I’ve posted on the topic without salt or sauce.”

    cool. a repudiation of the stubborn, unprovable, depressingly fatalistic view that human existence is without plan, guidance, or purpose beyond to ourselves? i’ll buy a ticket to that…c’mon, sully, take your deserved accolades and then thank your Maker for where and how He has led you!

    jtc

  42. LabRat says:

    I can’t quite figure out why it can’t be both – sheer indomitable human spirit, training, and guts as well as Divine intervention.

    Logically, I don’t either. The point of actual argument was a lot more about the portion of believers and disbelievers that have mutually offensive points of view and/or attitudes than it was about whether the existence of divine intervention could be empirically confirmed or ruled out.

    By Mark’s definition, I’m an agnostic too- where I get into solid atheist territory is when specific religions and doctrines are under discussion. I have no logical or emotional problem with an intelligent designer actually intelligent enough to set up the universe as it is. It’s in nearly every attempt to explain and understand its nature thereafter that I cross over into flat atheist territory.

    “I’ll leave with one parting thought: What about the cancers that mysteriously go away? “Spontaneous remission“.

    More flukes? Or genuine miracles?”

    Or biology we don’t understand yet. (Or, okay, logically speaking, possibly miracles.)

  43. ATLien says:

    As for “God has a PLAN!” and that if he had a plan, why would he deviate from it: maybe he called an audible.

    As for “Why does this loving God make bad things happen to good people?”, etc. The correct answer (at least in the Protestantism i learned) is that he doesn’t. Bad things happen because of the will of humans.

  44. LabRat says:

    I just KNOW I’m going to regret this, but…

    “a repudiation of the stubborn, unprovable, depressingly fatalistic view that human existence is without plan, guidance, or purpose beyond to ourselves?”

    The belief that the meaning of life is what you do with yours is fatalistic? Really? Honest doubt can be nothing but sheer stubbornness and God IS provable?

    Existentialism is only depressing if the most fulfilling life you can imagine is being a neurotic French intellectual.

    The universe doesn’t have a plan for me so I don’t have to figure out how to live! I’ll mope and smoke until I die! Not fair!”

  45. ATLien says:

    Oh, and that pilot is quite simply a badass. We’ll have to wait and see if some of the passengers get tumors from standing in the Hudson.

  46. MarkHB says:

    Pawnbroker: Nooooooo, you’re making too much of that. If Captain Sullenberger decides to say “it’s a miracle”, then I’ll stop bitching about people deciding it is on his behalf. That’s all – no further. Like I say – show me a submarine soft-landed on a cloud, and I’ll seriously consider the possibility of a miracle – but I’ll be checking for students who came up with a gravity lens or aliens having a prank first.

  47. I’ve seen no reports that confirm which pilot was actually flying the airplane. There were two pilots and it is usual practice for pilots to trade legs, with the pilot not flying the airplane handling the radio work.

    The First Officer may have been flying the airplane. That doesn’t detract from the Captain, he is still the pilot-in-command.

  48. MarkHB says:

    Once more, LabRat plunges her barb into the twitching heart of the matter: I’m actually an intrinsically really happy bloke. I’ve got a direction, a plan, and it’s moving ahead – in fact, I’m strapping a 747 to my arse in about 14 hours time to put my money where my mouse is yet again, with every expectation of success. If I succeed, it’ll be because I’ve put a decade and a half of practise into being the best animator I can – gods not required.

    I need a God to determine my fate like I need a priest to tell me not to rape, murder or steal. Or a government man to defend me, for that matter.

  49. Unix-Jedi says:

    During my pilot training, we worked long and hard on accidents/bad scenarios. What we couldn’t simulate in the air, we discussed on the ground. Since then I’ve been to many FAA safety seminars (including one where they told us in General Aviation to go for the trees before the water – statistically you’re much safer landing through the trees).

    I’ve got many friends in the Airline Biz, and they train repeatedly and thoroughly for many scenarios. Engine outs, fires, damage, hijacking, birdstrikes, you name it. They spend more time in simulators than in the air.

    With all of my training, and all of the training I’ve heard about from my friends and acquaintances, nobody’s ever told me that in a disaster, they trained to pray.

    Now, I reckon this could be there’s seen to be little need for the practice. Perhaps it’s that we’re all heathens, and maybe because we’re all saved. Or it might be that in those last, most critical moments, it’s up to us if the situation is savable within the laws of physics.
    S’how I’m going to train, just in case.

  50. Phil says:

    To be fair, I think Mark has a point when he says a submarine landing on a cloud would be a miracle, and this is highly doubtful.

    Biblical miracles were undeniable. If it happened, there clearly had to be intervention from a deity. Think fire from the heavens on Mount Carmel. Or feeding 5,000 people from a kid’s lunch. Bringing Lazarus back from the dead. That sort of thing- the only way to dispute those as being supernatural is to deny their very happening, since there’s just no other way to explain them.

    This CAN be described as just extreme skill, with plenty of room for debate for God’s providential assistance (the good old “God, help me not to screw this one up”).

    Had the airplane lost its wings at 10,000 feet and the pilot landed it perfectly, it would be an undeniable miracle. As it happened, this may or may not have been divinely granted safety, but there is still plenty of room for the devout to thank God for their safety.

  51. MarkHB says:

    *nods to Phil*

    I’m not unreasonable. You seem to see this. But a Miracle is an unreasonable thing. Literally. This ditching is a reasonable thing.

    So the simplest, most logical explanation is sheer skill. That’s all. Nothing supernatural, just exceptional. Just good people.

    If your god does exist, then his glory is in us. If he doesn’t, then our glory is in us. It doesn’t matter which obtains, as long as we’re all doing our damnedest to be Competent, Compassionate and Complete.

    Let us live, all. If there is a God, it’ll sort out.

  52. MarkHB says:

    Here’s a thing to live your life by.

    There’s no help coming.

    You are on your own.

    You are part of something bigger.

    Humanity.

    But that’s it. That’s all. That’s us.

    And we are Mighty!

  53. Avenger29 says:

    “You wonder why pilots get paid big bucks for a job done largely by computers? Because every now and then shit happens.”

    Actually, pilots generally don’t “get paid big bucks”

    These days, a pilot will slave away at rather low wages in a flight instructor, then a regional first officer (copilot) seat before they start to earn some money. Maybe once they are higher up the ladder they’ll earn pay more in line with what the public thinks all pilots earn…

    My flight instructor got paid $15 an hour, and that was only when she actually flew or taught ground school. Bad weather? No pay. No students showing up for ground school? No pay. Week of bad weather? Buying Ramen noodles on credit.

    Add that to the fact that she had $20K in student loan debt that had to be paid…glad I wasn’t her. She’s a first officer with Comair now…

  54. lr: “The belief that the (only) meaning of life is what you do with (only) yours is fatalistic?”

    yes.

    mhb: “If Captain Sullenberger decides to say “it’s a miracle”, then I’ll stop bitching…That’s all – no further.”

    oh. damn.

    glad to hear that you’re on your way back home, that your future is bright, and that you are happy…much of what you have written while exiled on the dark continent didn’t convey that.

    have a safe flight; i’m assuming you wouldn’t want me to ask God to intervene in the pilot rotation to ensure a sully-esque jet jockey, but it might slip in subconsciously. cheers!

    jtc

  55. George Smith says:

    Not wanting to get into the miracle debate, I’d just like to offer another thought.

    In addition to the pilot’s superb skills, Airbus built itself a pretty good aircraft. Not only did it skip to a landing without breaking up, it was towed to city side also without breaking up.

    Not bad, I’d say.

  56. Jay Hafemeister says:

    I was kind of surprised that the plane stayed afloat as long as it did. I would have figured it would sink pretty fast, what with the weight of the pilot’s GIANT CAST IRON BALLS!

  57. Marko says:

    The A320 series has a ditching button, which seals all the vents and openings in the bottom of the plane to keep the bird as watertight as possible in an emergency ditching.

    Looks like it worked as intended.

  58. MarkHB says:

    Indeed, the Ditch Switch did just what it ought to. So a big shout-out to the Airbus assembly teams as well for building their bird Right. A lot could have gone wrong:

    The engines might not have gone into the right failure mode. If they’d kept running instead of shutting down on strike/fire, they could have torn the wings apart.
    The Ditch Switch might not have worked properly, sinking the plane too quickly for those aboard to evacuate.
    The breakaways on the engine pylons might not have worked, and instead of them ripping off *relatively* easily and symmetrically could have torn the wings apart or caused cartwheeling.

    I have decided that I like the way Airbus build things.

  59. it’s a miracle! :o)

    side note: sully speaks monday on “today”…don’t miss it!

    jtc

  60. Justthisguy says:

    By standard mainstream Christian doctrine for, oh, the last 2000 years or so, that weren’t no miracle.

    That was a TEST. I am glad that all passed, with very high marks. Reminds me of the last sermon or two, where I attend divine services.

    The priest was complaining about the people whom I call “rapturoids”, the ones who, once conscious of being saved, refuse to engage with the wider world, and “wait on the fantail for the rapture helicopter to rescue them.”

    Christians have a duty to act, in this world, to try to make it better. They have a duty to prepare themselves to be ready to act, in this world

  61. MarkHB says:

    Oh that’s high-larious, Justthisguy – “waiting on the fantail for the rapturecopter” has entered this man’s personal lexicon. Thank you! 😀 I suppose calling them “raptards” would probably be a bit offensive… I’m laughing into my Berocca all the same…😉

    I would argue that every sentient being will fall into a behavioural pattern that you would recognise as “trying to make the world better” once they start thinking straight. Once a mind accepts it’s irreducable part in the operation of the world, it’s balance of material consumption which must be funded by the effort of it’s own hands, then certain things become obvious.

    The essential process of revenue creation, under analysis, shows clearly that dealing honourably for honest effort is the most sensible, repeatable way with the fewest practical impediments. You can only cheat anyone once – you can only steal from anyone when opportunity favours and your prey is unaware, unarmed or cowed. You can deal honestly with people forever, though.

    This is just one example of a set of self-evident, endlessly ramifying guidelines which is virtually indistinguishable from what you call “having a duty to act in this world to try to make it better”. Yes, you’ll always get people who’re slackers, scumbags and unethical twunts. But people who make a habit of thinking logically tend to behave in polite, decent, cheerfully productive manners just because it’s sensible to – and makes for a more pleasant life, too.

    Or that might just be the jetlag talking. It’s all good.

  62. Avenger29 says:

    The A320 series has a ditching button, which seals all the vents and openings in the bottom of the plane to keep the bird as watertight as possible in an emergency ditching.

    Looks like it worked as intended.

    They didn’t hit the ditching switch.

  63. Justthisguy says:

    Mark, weren’t no helicopters in 1912. Wouldn’t have made any difference to Titanic’s engineers. They stayed below and kept the lights on, to the very end. None of ’em made it out. That was their Christian duty, and they did it. As did the musicians. Sometimes doing the right thing means that everyone survives, sometimes not. I hope I’ll have the courage to do the right thing if, God forbid, I ever have to make a choice between that and personal survival.

  64. Larry says:

    eh…if the engines HAD stayed running, perhaps they could have brought the aircraft around and landed it at the airport, instead of on the Hudson. Even a FOD’ed engine gives you a little bit of thrust.
    But then again, I’m not a pilot, just a dumb old aircraft mechanic…
    Anyway, great job to the flight crew, flight attendants, and all the river pilots who charged to the rescue.

  65. MarkHB says:

    Just watched the 60 minutes article on Captain Sullenburger, who seems to have dodged every mention of “miracle”.

    Just a well-trained, highly professional man doing his job. That’s where the bar is, people. Live to it.

  66. MarkHB says:

    Oh, did anyone hear about “The Sully”, the cocktail invented to honour Cap’n Sullenberger?

    Two shots of Grey Goose
    One splash of water.

  67. holy water prob’ly…

  68. Justthisguy says:

    My favorite Sully story is the one about his notifying the public library that he can’t bring the book back yet, it being in the hold of a soggy airplane, and requesting leave to delay its return. The guy really is a straight arrow.

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