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The Miracle of the Hudson River

The Miracle of the Hudson River

On January 15, 2009, the flight captain Chesley Sullenberger launched a routine domestic flight from New York as usual. "Sully," as he was usually called by his friends, started his career at the US Air Force, was an active glider pilot and a trained carrier. With over 19,000 flying hours, he had been a very experienced pilot, but what was to happen in the following minutes was an absolute horror for the experienced pilot.

Shortly after the scheduled start, dull blows suddenly shook the plane and the smell of burnt animals followed. The machine had flown at about 400 kilometers per hour into a large swarm of geese. The engines quickly fell out as they had sucked in the spring, and the 70 ton aircraft was a light metal glider without a drive. There was now no engine noise, and no one on the plane knew what was going to happen. Only one man could not lose his nerves.

Chesley Sullenberger immediately took control and tried to keep the plane quiet. He contacted the air traffic control authorities to find a suitable solution as soon as the aircraft lost its heights. A return to the departure airport would take too long, for this reason the air traffic controllers proposed a glide route to a nearby regional airport. But this route was no longer an option for the pilot as the plane was already flying too low and much too slowly. Chesley Sullenberger wanted to prevent a potentially catastrophic crash in the middle of densely populated New York, and the chances were good that this route would actually happen.

Chesley Sullenberger: "I had to solve this problem. I had a job to do"

There was now only a tiny chance to save the lives of the passengers and many other people, and Sully had to make this incomprehensible decision as a responsible person all by himself and only in fractions of seconds. In his last radio speech he informed the air traffic control that he had decided to ditch the Hudson River. The faces of the air traffic controllers suddenly turned pale, because there were only a few courageous pilots who would actually dare. In most of the previous landings with scheduled airplanes, no one had survived, and everyone knew this.

For this situation, there was no instruction and no training simulations on how an airplane actually behaved during an impact. Chesley Sullenberger had to improvise and only trust his feeling for the machine as a longtime pilot. Never before in his life had he had to fly a large machine so slowly, because every hour kilometer too much could crush the plane in a lot of parts. The flight attendants gave the passengers final instructions and then trembling themselves into their seats. Suddenly it was silent. No voices were heard in the airplane, the fear of the possible death had put many passengers under shock. The life of 155 people was now in the hands of a single man, the pilot Chesley Sullenberger.

The first skyscrapers appeared and the plane crossed the George Washington Bridge. Chesley Sullenberger steered the machine with a quiet hand between the obstacles, knowing that a small mistake and a little lack of concentration could cost many lives. He quickly sought a suitable place for the ditching, as the New York harbor was a busy area. Only six minutes after the aircraft had picked up from the airport, the plane was already back on the Hudson River. With incredible feeling, the pilot actually made it a point-accurate landing and the machine was not destroyed.

The miracle of the Hudson River was completed. All passengers survived the unforeseen emergency landing without real injuries. Soon there were ferries, which brought the people who climbed over the wings to safety. Sully was the last person left the plane, after checking that there was no passenger in the plane.

The sewage was only less than 1.6 kilometers from the famous Times Square and later it was found that the busy George Washington Bridge was only flown with an airport of about 275 meters.

Chesley Sullenberger received an honorary award from the city of New York for his courageous deed, the US President thanked himself personally for his heroic commitment to the people. While many pilots are reluctant to make a breakout, the courage of Sully rewarded. In the most dangerous and difficult situation in his life, he remained calm and made the right decisions in just a few seconds despite the acute danger of life. This ditching was considered a masterly feat, as many experts agreed that such a maneuver was one of the most difficult things for pilots in the aviation industry. It was only Chesley Sullenberger, his courage and his special flight feeling, that there was no terrible catastrophe. Who knows how another pilot in his place would have coped with this incredible pressure situation.
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