As anyone who owns a radio, television, or Internet-connected computer in the Western hemisphere knows by now, a US Airways passenger jet was forced to make an emergency water-landing in the Hudson River between Manhattan and New Jersey this afternoon, at approximately 3:30 p.m. ET.
The cause of the crash is believed to be an unavoidable midair collision between the jet and a flock of geese. The birds were sucked into the aircraft’s jet turbines, inflicting massive damage to both engines.
With both engines out, the captain, Chesley B. Sullenberger III, 57, maintained control of his aircraft as he advised his passengers to brace for a hard-impact water landing. According to multiple witnesses, he guided his aircraft to a remarkably gentle, nose-up, tail-first touchdown in the river, clear of water traffic.
All 150 passengers and the five crewmembers (including Sullenberger) were able to evacuate the aircraft and be rescued by local waterferries, Coast Guard, and police and fire department rescue vehicles. Captain Sullenberger reportedly walked and inspected the interior of his downed and rapidly flooding aircraft twice to verify that all passengers and crew had been safely evacuated from the plane before he set foot outside the aircraft.
For his quick thinking, calm action, courage, and piloting puissance that prevented an accident from becoming a tragedy, I tip my hat to Captain Sullenberger, and bestow upon him this blog’s second Great Human Being Award.