“I’m a hero,” says Sully after more water landings
Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles reunited in the cockpit to take charge of a flight from North Carolina to New York City.
He then astonished and thrilled passengers by landing his plane in the Hudson for a second time.
“Just as we were approaching the airport, a goose flew into each of the engines,” explained Sullenberger. “I knew there was no time to react. Rather than risk the plane crashing into New York City and destroying some large buildings, I made the decision to land it in the Hudson. Again. And FIrst Officer Skiles helped.”
“There was no alternative,” agreed Skiles. “With a goose in each engine, we would probably have crashed. We needed to land that plane against all odds again, and, fortunately we did so.”
Passengers were delighted with Sullenberger’s legendary flying skills.
“I am proud and grateful to have been saved by such a great American hero,” said Glimpson Smith, 72, of Chicago. “We all cheered when he landed the plane in the water, and didn’t mind a bit that we had to swim for it afterwards. At least we were alive. Most of us, anyway.”
Engineers were unable to find traces of the geese in the engines, but agreed that this was probably because Sullenberger’s prompt action in immersing the engines in river water had washed them clean.
“He not only saved the passengers, he saved the engines,” said one.
But Sullenberger’s adventures were not over. After posing for cameras after the flight, he and First Officer Skiles took charge of a second flight from New York’s LaGuardia Airport back to Charlotte, North Carolina. But, once again, as they were coming down, they were forced to land on water – this time, the muddy Yadkin River.
“I spotted a double-crested cormorant pecking at the underside of the plane, where all the wires are,” explained Sullenberger. “I knew that if the bird’s beak cut through the cables and things, we would all be done for. I knew I needed a way to get the bird off the plane before we crashed, killing many innocent people.”
“He looked at me, and said, ‘What should we do?'” added First Officer Skiles. “Then I saw water below, and said, ‘The river!’ So we landed it in the river. Again.”
“It was extremely difficult, but we bravely and humbly did it,” admitted Sullenberger. “I am a hero. A reluctant hero.”
“Me too,” agreed Skiles.
Passengers were ebullient at being saved from a fiery death by bird-wire peckage.
“He is a great man, and he saved my life, and probably a lot of other lives,” said Wilhelmina Storchkugel, 87, of Linden, Missouri. “He is more than a hero. He is a man-mountain and walking legend.”
A few hours later, Sullenberger was in the air again, this time flying to Rhode Island. But, incredibly, and for a third time, he faced a problem which forced a water landing.
“I heard a strange sound,” said Sullenberger. “My catlike senses immediately told me that a hummingbird had alighted on the wing and was messing with the planes aerodynamics – the Bernoulli principle and lift, that kind of thing. I was not willing to risk crashing into Rhode Island and possibly breaking it. So instead, I landed it in the Atlantic.”
“I helped,” explained First Officer Skiles. “I saw a wave that looked like a good landing spot, and that’s where we put her down.”
Passengers shimmered with pleasure at the news that their lives had been saved by Sullenberger.
“He saved my life, and he saved my island,” said Janice Ploon, 103, of Providence, Rhode Island. “He is a hero of titanic proportions and possibly a kind of lesser Messiah.”
Sully’s next flight will take him to Los Angeles.
“Hopefully we will not run into any more bird problems,” said Sullenberger, “but if we do, I know a guy there with a large swimming pool, and landing a plane there would be really heroic.”