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EHÖK The miracle on Hudson

The miracle on Hudson

2021-08-25

6 minutes. I want you to ask yourself what you can do in 6 minutes. Not a lot of things, right? That is not even enough time to respond to a random guy texting you hi on Instagram, because what does that even mean. It is not even enough time to shower, well unless you are Ashton Kutcher then it is more than enough time. Buckle up, I am about to blow your mind with what else can happen in 6 minutes.

On 2009 January 15th, US Airways flight 1549, an Airbus A320 was about to take off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to Charlotte, North Carolina. Normally this flight would take about 2 hours. But on this day, the flight lasted about…. *drumrolls please** you guessed it right, 6 minutes.

On this day, the Airbus A320 is on the runway, on the cockpit Chesley Sullenberger (Captain Sully), is going through the checklist with his first officer and awaits clearance for takeoff. They get it and the plane takes off.

In the first minute, there is a guy in the first-class window seat who saw something from the corner of his eye he sees something approaching the plane at an incredible speed. Before he even got a chance to turn, he heard some knocking sound on the plane. Everyone on the plane starts freaking out because shortly after the sound there is smoke and fire. The engines are on fire! This might be the most intense minute in aviation history. What had just happened was that a flock of geese had flown right into the turbines of the plane and caused the engines to burst into flames.

In a matter of seconds, the engines die.

If this accident occurred at around 35,000 feet which is the altitude that the flight was supposed to be operating at, the pilot would have enough time to compose himself and go through the checklist to avert disaster.

But as the collision occurred about a minute after takeoff, the altitude was about 3000 feet and at this height, there is not enough time to figure out what your next move is, let alone go through a 3-page checklist. At this altitude, you can only trust your instincts.

All this is happening about 3 minutes after takeoff. Captain Sully places a mayday call to New York air traffic control to ask for clearance because he wanted to turn the plane back to where he came from. He tries to turn the plane back but it is impossible. He calls the air traffic control to inform them that he cannot go back since he has zero engine and low altitude. He decides to land the plane in the closest airport which is in New Jersey. The airport is also quite a distance away and it would take time which Captain Sully did not have.

He phones the air traffic control and says that he cannot get to New Jersey either so he is going to land the plane on the river below them which is River Hudson.

Sully commanded over the cabin address system to brace for impact. The flight attendants then relayed the same message to the passengers, brace for impact!. This was a risky maneuver because the last known flight to do that was the Ethiopian airlines and it crashed terribly. Statistically speaking the chances of landing a plane on water at such a speed are very low. The tail of the plane had an allowance of 11 degrees for the plane to peacefully glide over the water. I do not want to get into the technical details but this was a very hard thing to pull off and Captain Sully was aware of this.

To him, it was better to land the plane on the water where he had a slim chance of survival than on the sides of the river where there were buildings and more casualties would arise.

Now that Captain Sully had made up his mind, he informed his passengers and was confirming the checklist that everything was in place to land the plane in the water. In that confusion, he forgot to press a button called ditching that locks all the ventilations of the plane in case it has to make an emergency landing in the water. This is to prevent the water from flooding the plane.

In the fifth minute going to the 6th as the plane is descending, Captain Sully sees that they are headed straight for the George Washington Bridge. Another disaster he has to avert. Believe it or not, he avoided the bridge, and then by godly skill, he landed the plane with the tail at the correct 11 degrees that he was supposed to land it. In a few seconds, the plane stopped.

Normally this would mean that everything is fine only they weren’t.

It was like on this day everything that could go wrong went wrong.

The captain had forgotten to press the ditch button so the water was flowing into the plane and it started sinking gently. The water was 2 degrees above freezing so it was only a matter of time before someone died if they fell on the water. The plane doors opened and deployed slides that the passengers used to balance on the plane’s wings while they waited for help.

The good thing is that in the Hudson River there are lots of ferries and they came to help with the rescue mission.

At the end of it, everybody aboard that flight survived and Captain Sully was the last person to leave the plane after he made sure all his passengers were safely rescued.

Thanks to the composure of Captain Sully, 155 people survived possible death on that fateful day. And to this day people are not sure if he got the 11 degrees angle by sheer luck or by looking for it.

 

Written by: Fidel Gatimu