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Surviving An Aircraft Crash: US Airways Flight 1549

by John M. White |

People are calling the water landing of US Airways Flight 1549 "The Miracle on the Hudson", and this evening I was listening to NPR and there was a fascinating interview with David Sontag, a survivor of the accident.  Mr. Sontag is a writer, and had a very interesting perspective on what happened.Click on image to enlarge

Mr. Sontag had been in Connecticut at the funeral of his brother and was returning to North Carolina where he teaches writing for screen and stage at the University of North Carolina.  This gives him a unique view of the circumstances surrounding the ditching of the Airbus 320 in the Hudson.

Sontag was sitting in the rear of the aircraft and during takeoff was looking out the window and saw one of the engines on fire.  Shortly thereafter a woman unfastened her seat belt, stood up and yelled "fire" and one of the stewardesses told her - in very firm tones - to sit down, fasten her seat belt and that everything was under control.

Shortly thereafter Captain Sullenberger calmly announced to the passengers that they should take position for impact and shortly thereafter the aircraft hit the water.  Sontag said the noise of the impact was loud, just like you would expect in an accident, and then there was water up to his calfs. 

Everyone was calm and exited the aircraft while boats surrounded the aircraft to carry off the survivors.

But the interesting thing he said during the radio interview was this:  He felt that this accident was like the close to the events of 9/11.  It involved an aircraft in New York but everyone survived.  He feels that this has put closure for most New Yorkers on 9/11.

Certainly a different view than those of us outside of New York have of this incident.

Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch!


Oh! I've slipped through the swirling clouds of dust,
   a few feet from the dirt,
I've flown the Phantom low enough,
   to make my bottom hurt.
I've TFO'd the deserts, hills,
   valleys and mountains too,
Frolicked in the trees,
   where only flying squirrels flew.
Chased the frightened cows along,
   disturbed the ram and ewe,
And done a hundred other things,
   that you'd not care to do.
I've smacked the tiny sparrow,
   bluebird, robin, all the rest,
I've ingested baby eaglets,
   simply sucked them from their nest!
I've streaked through total darkness,
   just the other guy and me,
And spent the night in terror of
   things I could not see.
I've turned my eyes to heaven,
   as I sweated through the flight,
Put out my hand and touched,
   the master caution light.

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