A tale of heroism at its finest

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The miraculous landing of a passenger jetliner in the Hudson River shortly after takeoff from New York's LaGuardia Airport is a hero's story, and US Airways pilot Chesley B. Sullenberger III is that hero.

In a matter of a few hundred seconds, Sullenberger evaluated his options as the disabled aircraft began to lose altitude. He considered returning to LaGuardia. He considered using a runway at nearby Teterboro, N.J. And he considered landing in the river. He chose the river.

After getting the plane over the George Washington Bridge, Sullenberger guided the aircraft to a perfect water landing. Boats came to the stricken plane's aid immediately. All the 150 passengers and crew members survived, and only a handful were hospitalized with minor injuries and hypothermia.

Sullenberger is an experienced pilot whose career has included military aviation as well as commercial flights. His training -- and his cool head during the few minutes he had to decide what to do and execute the by-the-book landing in the frigid Hudson River -- saved lives and makes for a wonderful story of triumph in the face of disaster.

The passenger and crew, of course, owe their lives to Sullenberger. They also praise his actions as heroic. And the rest of the nation, watching the incredible videos captured by amazed New Yorkers using cell phone cameras, join in the accolades.

What had all the makings of a tragedy at a time when the country is reeling from economic woes turned into an uplifting act of heroism.

Thanks, Captain Sullenberger. We needed that.

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