It was just over six years ago when we all marvelled at "The Miracle on the Hudson", when Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and his crew managed to safely land their Airbus on the Hudson River, after losing power following collisions with birds that stalled the jet's engines. Sullenberger and his crew were able to accomplish this, amazingly, without serious injuries or any loss of life to the passengers.
The crew were justifiably hailed as heroes as they calmly worked the situation they were thrust into. It was a story that the world needed so badly then, with the world's financial system at the brink of collapse and as major economies the world over slid helplessly into what would be called The Great Recession.
The world needed heroes then, and the crew of USA Airways Flight 1549 reluctantly obliged.
As is always the case, there was to be a bit of a backlash. "Experts" came crawling out of the woodwork to claim that modern jets, like the Airbus that Sullenberger safely landed on the Hudson River, are such sophisticated machines, that the plane could have, and likely did much of it's own landing, and that Sullenberger was just "along for the ride". We all leaned nifty phrases like "fly by wire" which referred to the autopilot, and that since modern planes were often operated in this fashion, the hullabaloo about the heroics of Sully and his crew was just an exaggeration.
That backlash, an example of some of the worst aspects of human nature, was wrong then, and is wrong now. We are, hopefully, ending a period of time when airplanes are going missing without a trace over the ocean, and are careening over highways and into the drink with a horrific loss of life. Where are the benefits of modern technology in these aircraft? You know, "fly by wire" and all that jazz.
The actions of Captain Sullenberger and his crew that January day six years ago were the epitome of heroism, and professionalism. I wonder how and why modern aircraft can just go missing in this day and age. How can pilots of commercial airlines allow these horrible situations to occur over and over again?
And how can airlines continue to grind down the pilots and flight attendants unions, reducing benefits and pensions? These are the people that stand between an uneventful flight and unimaginable horror and death. Now comes news that United Airlines plans to continue the industry trend in outsourcing aircraft maintenance. Nothing, nothing, good will come of this.
The story of "The Miracle on the Hudson" will be told for many years, there can be no doubt. It represents the very best in human nature, the trained professionals coolly performing their life saving duties to perfection in the face of staggering odds. The gratitude of their passengers and a needy and wounded world highlight the heroism that Sullenberger and crew never sought, but humbly performed.