Home | Posts RSS | Comments RSS | Login

book review: "Fly By Wire"...

Sunday, June 12, 2016
...with a subtitle of 'The Geese, The Glide, The Miracle on the Hudson'. Written by William Langewiesche, printed 'wwwaaaay back in 2009, by Thorndike Press. Something I have thought of occasionally and wanted to read when it first came out.

The reason it comes to mind is: a) I see a billboard on the Interstate highway with a photo of those people standing on the wings, waiting to be plucked off by passenger ferries that ply the river all day long. And b) my daughter recently told me about having heard the' first person' account from a woman who was on the flight, lives in TN, and continues to fly frequently on business. Which reminded me, again, about the book and what was surely a fascinating tale of amazing competency.

Capt. Sullenberger was apparently invited to be a guest at the White House, as well as appear on numerous talk shows, though from the reading is a pretty humble, taciturn guy who would not want to be fawned over. Just very capable, experienced and doing his job under some pretty stressful circumstances. He took off from LaGuardia in New York and ran into a flock of geese about three minutes after becoming airborne. The airliner, built in France, was designed to be run by a number of computers. Which as it turned out were a great help in keeping the plane aloft as well and as long as it did, despite engines being destroyed by the fowl impact and resulting debris.

 Sullenbereger was experienced, knowledgeable, well trained, and apparently very calm under stress. He learned to fly as a youth, and was one of the few in his class when he gained entry into the Air Force Academy. He flew fighter jets in the service for five years, then became a commercial pilot.

A couple of quotes from the book: "Sullenberger made the right decision. No matter what... Even if people had died because of landing in the Hudson." (Every other option would have had him crashing in densely populated areas or trying to reach an unreachable airport runway.)

"Sullenberger did not answer (the air traffic controller's) question. He was looking for better solutions, but beginning to set up for the Hudson. Talking on the radio is low on the list of chores. You fly the airplane first, you navigate second, you talk on the radio after that. Sullenberger was clear about the priorities. His silences were brilliant."

Apparently hitting water is just about as undesirable as hitting concrete, so unless you happen to be in a floatplane, designed to safely land on a body of water, that would be one of your least desirable choices. And apparently Sullenberger did a great job.The worst physical injury was to a flight attendant, who was badly cut on her leg. Several passengers were admitted to the hospital when they were taken ashore by nearby ferries, arriving in minutes after the landing.  Some went on to catch later flights to their destinations. Everyone eventually received all their sodden belongings.

As you might expect there was some PTSD, and people anxious about travel by air.Who of course received counseling courtesy of US Airways.  But still an amazing story. With a remarkably happy ending. Though it has been nearly twenty years, I would say it is a story well worth reading.

0 comments to book review: "Fly By Wire"...:

Post a Comment