Pilot Chelsey B. Sullenberg III - A True Hero
The American author Henry Miller once wrote, “The ordinary man is involved in action, the hero acts. An immense difference.” The validity of this statement was recently seen in the actions of Chelsey B. Sullenberg III, the pilot who safely landed US Airways Flight 1549 into the Hudson River.
Landing a jet on water is an incredible feat. The pilot must touch-down on the water at the perfect angle. If one of the wings touches the water during the landing, it can cause the plane to literally cartwheel out of control. Water landing is a rare occurrence for planes – so rare that flight schools rarely train pilots for such an occurrence. Yet Sullenberg’s masterful landing demonstrated his incredible ability as a pilot and reflected well upon the training he received from the United States Air Force.
Sullenberg’s heroism resonates beyond his piloting skills and into his abilities as a captain. He kept calm under extreme pressure and assessed the situation with even judgment. The plane was not high off the ground when the engines failed and Sullenberg had to make split-second decisions. Rather than panicking and attempting to land on the streets of New York City, which could have resulted in the lives of many people, Sullenberg made the correct decision to land on the Hudson River.
As every passenger was evacuated from the plane in safe condition, Sullenberg demonstrated the depth of his heroism. Before exiting the sinking plane himself, the captain checked the aircraft twice to make sure no passengers were left behind. Sullenberg personified the selfless behavior of a true hero.
As Miller stated, “a hero acts.” Sullenberg acted with superlative piloting skills, experienced judgement, and a service-before-self attitude. Thanks to this captain and his crew, everyone on the flight was rescued safely. Captain Sullenberg’s actions have marked him as a true hero.