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Ok, it’s not a great picture. I took it with my iPhone. At 1 p. m. today (January 16th 2009) I walked down to where the plane is submerged in the Hudson. If you look at the base of the vertical crane, the little rhombus of grey is the tip of the wing. I was jostling with reporters interviewing not-so-eye-witnesses and emergency personelle, and of course, a hundred gawkers like me who braved the bitter cold (12 degrees F) to get a look at the history that landed in a river yesterday. This is as close as we could get. The smell of jet fuel was obnoxious. Maybe that’s why there were so many fire trucks parked at the curb? Also, check out Oxblood’s tribute to the pilot.

By J.D. Oxblood

I have a new hero, and his name is Chesley Sullenberger III.  As anyone in the New York area who doesn’t live under a rock should know by now, “Sully” is a commercial airline pilot.  Yesterday, making routine flight #1549 from LaGuardia to Charlotte for U.S. Air, Sully’s plane struck something—most likely a flock of birds—and one of his engines erupted in flames.  Sully quickly decided that he didn’t have time to make it to the nearest airfield, Teterboro, and instead ditched the plane in the Hudson River in midtown.  There were no fatalities.  This is a clear case of incredible judgment and the skills to pay the bills.  “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking… uhhhhhh… we seem to be… uhhh… on fire… I’m going to drop this puppy down on the Hudson… uhhhhhh… we might get a little wet.”

As a veteran traveler, this story makes me all warm and giddy on the inside.  Not for nothing, the LGA-Charlotte route is exactly the ticket on U.S. Air that I tried to purchase in December but found it sold out—it was the cheapest way to get to Mexico.  And speaking as someone who has been in some uncomfortable airplane moments—emergency landings, blown tires on landing—there is no currency more valuable than a pilot who knows how to roll with the punches.

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