“Brace for impact,” the pilot announced on a US Air flight 1549 shortly after takeoff.
I was drawn to the windows of my Manhattan office after hearing the sounds of sirens and helicopters rushing to the . Apparently, a plane made a crash landing in the Hudson River. I immediately turned to CNN on my Sprint TV to find out what happened. A US Air shuttle to Charlotte, North Carolina apparently struck a gaggle of geese shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport, causing both its engines to fail.
I was glued to the news reports, and relieved that people were quickly rescued. I was struck by a few things. For one, the quick action by ferry boat operators in the vicinity of the plane. New York is a harbor town, surrounded by water. There has been a big increase in the number of ferry boats that shuttle passengers between New York and New Jersey. The operators of these boats instantly swung into action to help out. Then there were the passengers. There were reports from several rescued passengers about how people worked together to get safely off the plane. One man gave kudos to the passengers in the exit rows, who quickly had the emergency doors opened and did their jobs to direct people onto the wings. Another man, in a cap and no jacket, told reporters that his priority was helping the “women and children first” to get to safety, reminding me of the valiant men of the Titanic. I heard that rather than panic, there was a sense of calm on the plane as the passengers helped each other get off the plane. There were no deaths, and few injuries. Of course, the calm and expert handling of the plane by the pilot and co-pilot cannot be understated in bringing this plane down in a controlled descent that made a total rescue possible.
Today could have been a disaster with an entirely different outcome. I’m proud of these folks. Nice stepping up!