Friday, January 16, 2009

These guys are good

I remember a joke by a random comedian ridiculing flight announcements that identified the pilot and co-pilot, the punchline: "what do we say? Ooh, those guys are good? I feel safe now?"

Actually, if you're on Chesley Sullenberger III's plane, the answer is: yes. Sully Sullenberger, a former fighter pilot, landed the US Airways Flight 1549 that lost both its engines shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia yesterday. The plane set down in the Hudson River with NO fatalities and only a few minor injuries, none more serious than broken bones. All 155 passengers and crew are alive. And Sullenberger went walking the fuselage of the airplane while rescue attempts were ongoing to make sure the passengers were ok.

This is why commercial pilots are well worth the six-figure salaries they get for only around 100 hours of work per month. The Monk remembers watching on TV -- breaking news -- a flight that landed in Houston 2.5 years ago where the landing gear failed to engage in the front and right sides. The Continental pilot just glided in on one set of landing gear, slowed the plane, then scraped the bottom to the ground. No bad injuries, no problem, no need to use the water trucks and firefighting services that were scrambled to the scene.

The location of the crash landing was also good -- New York. Within minutes private ferry boats, nearby boaters and even public ferries detoured to the floating plane and helped the passengers to safety.

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